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In the Wood of La Saudraie. — ô 

Etched by R. de Los Rios. — From Drawing 
by Francois Flameng. 

Illustrated Sterling Gdîtîon 









Wt»* Carafe» 



Vol. I. 



BOOK I. — The Wood of La Saudraib. 1 

BOOK II. — The Corvette " Claymore." 


I. England and France in Concert 16 

II. Night on the Vessel and with the Passenger . 21 

III. Noble and Plebeian in Concert 24 


V. Vis et Vir 36 

VI. The Two Scales op the Balance 43 

VII. He who sets Sail puts into a Lottery .... 47 

VIII. 9 = 380 .... 52 

IX. Some one escapes 58 

X. Does he escape ? 60 

BOOK III. — Halmalo. 

I. Speech is the "Word" 63 

II. The Peasant's Memory is as good as the Captain's 

Science 69 


BOOK IY. — Tellmarch. 

Chapter Page 

I. The Top of the Dune , . . 81 


III. Usefulness of Big Letters 88 

IV. The Caimand 91 

V. Signed Gauvain 99 

VI. The Whirligigs of Civil War ....... 103 

VII. "No Mercy!" (Watchword of the Commune) 

" No Quarter ! " (Watchword of the Princes) 109 



I. The Streets of Paris at teat Time 116 

II. ClMOURDAIN .............. 125 

HI. A Corner not dipped in Styx 133 

BOOK II. — The Public House of the Rue du Paon. 

I. Minos, iEAcus, and Rhadamanthus 136 

II. Magna Testantur Voce per Umbras 140 

£11. A Stirring of the Inmost Nerves . . . . . . 158 

BOOK III. — The Convention. 

1 170 

II .172 

til 175 

IV. 182 

V 188 

VI 190 

VH 192 

VIF 195 


Chapter Page 

IX. . . . . c ... 197 

X. .199 

XI. .803 

XII. ..[.'. 205 

XIII. Marat in the Green-Room • • . . 906 


BOOK I. — La Vendée. 

ï. The Forests . , ....',...*... t 213 

II. The Peasants . ............. 216 

III. Connivance of Men and Forests ...... 218 

IV. Their Life Underground ......... 222 

V. Their Life in Warfare .......... 224 

VI. The Spirit of the Place passes into the Man . 231 

VII. La Vendée ended Brittany 235 

BOOK II. — The Three Children. 

I. Plusquam Civilia Bella . .' . 237 

II. Dol ........... 246 

III. Small Armies and Great Battles ...... 254 

IV. "It is the Second Time " .i ........ 263 

V. The Drop of Cold Water . 266 

VI. A Healed Breast; a Bleeding Heart .... 269 

VII. The Two Poles of the Truth . 276 

VIII. Dolorosa .284 

IX. A Provincial Bastile ."*... 287 

X. The Hostages 298 

XI. Terrible as the Antique 305 

XII. Possible Escape 309 

XIII. What the Marquis was doing 312 

XIV. What Imanus was doing 315 


BOOK III. — The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew. 

Chapter Page 

I 318 

II 322 

III 325 

IV 327 

V 331 

VI ■ 333 

VII 336 

BOOK IV. — The Mother. 

I. Death passes 338 

II. Death speaks 342 


IV. A Mistake . . . 352 

V. Vox in Deserto 355 

Vol. I. 

In the Wood op La Saudraie Frontispiece 

"The old man raised himself to his full height " . . 64 

The Marquis de Lantenac Discovering that a Price had 

been Set upon his Head 88 

Boissy d'Anglas Uncovering before the Head of the 

Deputy Féraud 198 

The Children in the Library 318 



AT SEA. ^f 



IN the latter part of May, 1793, one of the Paris bat= 
talions sent into Brittany by Santerre, searched the 
much dreaded forest of La Saudraie, in Astillé. There 
were only about three hundred men in the reconnoitring 
party, for the battalion had been well-nigh annihilated 
in the fierce conflicts in which it had engaged. 

It was after the battles of Argonne, Jemmapes, and 
Valmy, and of the First Paris Eegiment, which consisted 
originally of six hundred volunteers, only twenty-seven 
men remained, of the Second Eegiment only thirty- 
three, of the third only fifty-seven. It was unquestion- 
ably a time of epic strife. 

Each of the battalions sent from Paris to the Vendée 
numbered nine hundred and twelve men, and was pro- 
vided with three field-pieces. The force had been very 
hastily organized. On the 25th of April, — Gohier 
being minister of Justice, and Bouchotte minister of 
war, — the Committee of Public Welfare urged the 


necessity of immediately dispatching a large body ot 
troops to Vendée. Lubin, a member of the Commune, 
reported the bill favourably ; and on the 1st of May, 
Santerre had twelve thousand men, thirty cannon, and 
a corps of gunners ready for the field. 

These battalions, though organized so hurriedly, were 
organized so well that they serve as models even at the 
present day. Eegiments of the Line are yet organized 
in the same manner ; the relative proportion between the 
number of soldiers and non-commissioned officers has 
been changed, — that is all. 

On the 28th of April, the Commune of Paris gave 
Santerre' s volunteers this order: "No mercy; no quar- 
ter. " By the end of May, of the twelve thousand men 
that left Paris, eight thousand were dead. 

The troops who were exploring the forest of La Saudraie 
held themselves on the alert. They advanced slowly 
and cautiously. Each man cast furtive glances to the 
right and to the left of him, in front of him and behind 
him. It was Kléber who said : " A soldier has one eye 
in his back. " They had been marching a long while. 
What time of day could it be? It was difficult to say, 
for a dim twilight always pervades these dense forests. 
It is never really light there. 

The forest of La Saudraie was tragic. It was in its 
copses that, from the month of November, 1792, civil 
war commenced its crimes. Mousqueton, the ferocious 
cripple, came out of its fatal shades. The ' list of the 
murders that had been committed there was enough to 
make one's hair stand on end. There was no place 
more to be dreaded. The soldiers moved cautiously for- 
ward. The depths were full of flowers; on each side 
was a trembling wall of branches and dew-wet leaves. 
Here and there rays of sunlight pierced the green 
shadows. The gladiola, that flame of the marshes, the 


meadow narcissus, the little wood daisy, harbinger of 
spring, and the vernal croc as, embroidered the thick 
carpet of vegetation, crowded with every form of moss, 
from that resembling velvet {chenille) to that which 
looks like a star. The soldiers advanced in silence, step 
by step, pushing the brushwood softly aside. The birds 
twittered above the bayonets. 

In former peaceable times La Saudraie was a favourite 
place for the Houiche-ba 3 the hunting of birds by night ; 
now they hunted men there. 

The thicket was one of birch-trees, beeches, and oaks; 
the ground flat ; the thick moss and grass deadened the 
scund of the men's steps; there were no paths, or only 
blind ones, which quickly disappeared among the holly, 
wild sloes, ferns, hedges of rest-harrow, and high bram- 
bles. It would have been impossible to distinguish a 
man ten steps off. 

Now and then a heron or a moor-hen flew through the 
branches, indicating the neighbourhood of marshes. 

They pushed forward. They went at random, with 
uneasiness, fearing to find that which they sought. 

From time to time they came upon traces of encamp- 
ments, — burned spots, trampled grass, sticks arranged 
crosswise, branches stained with blood. Here soup had 
been made ; there, Mass had been said ; yonder, they 
had dressed wounds. But all human beings had disap- 
peared. Where were they. Very far off, perhaps ; per- 
haps quite near, hidden, blunderbuss in hand. The 
wood seemed deserted. The regiment redoubled its 
prudence. Solitude — hence distrust. They saw no one : 
so much more reason for fearing some one. They had 
to do with a forest with a bad name. An ambush was 

Thirty grenadiers, detached as scouts, and commanded 
by a sergeant, marched at a considerable distance in 


front of the main body. The vivandière of the battalion 
accompanied them. The vivandières willingly join 
the vanguard ; they run risks, but they have the chance 
of seeing whatever happens. Curiosity is one of the 
forms of feminine bravery. 

Suddenly the soldiers of this little advance party 
started like hunters who have neared the hiding-place of 
their prey. They had heard something like a breathing 
from the centre of a thicket, and seemed to perceive a 
movement among the branches. The soldiers made 

In the species of watch and search confided to scouts, 
the officers have small need to interfere ; the right thing 
seems done by instinct. 

In less than a minute the spot where the movement 
had been noticed was surrounded ; a line of pointed 
muskets encircled it ; the obscure centre of the thicket 
was covered on all sides at the same instant; the sol- 
diers, finger on trigger, eye on the suspected spot, only 
waited for the sergeant's order. Notwithstanding this, 
the vivandière ventured to peer through the underbrush, 
and at the moment when the sergeant was about to cry, 
" Fire ' " this woman cried, " Halt ! " 

Turning toward the soldiers, she added, " Do not fire, 
comrades ! " 

She plunged into the thicket ; the men followed. 

There was, in truth, some one there. 

In the thickest of the brake* on the edge of one of 
those little round clearings left by the fires of the char- 
coal-burners, in a sort of recess among the branches, a 
kind of chamber of foliage, half open like an alcove, 
a woman was seated on the moss, holding to her breast 
a nursing babe, while the fair heads of two sleeping 
children rested on her knees. 

This was the ambush. 


i( What are you doing here, you ? " cried the vivandière. 

The woman lifted her head. 

The vivandière added furiously : — 

" Are you mad, that you are there ? A little more 
and you would have been blown to pieces ! " 

Then she addressed herself to the soldiers, — 

" It is a woman. " 

" Well, that is plain to be seen, " said a grenadier. 

The vivandière continued, — ■ 

" To come into the wood to get yourself massacred ! 
The idea of such stupidity ! " 

The woman, stunned, petrified with fear, looked about 
like one in a dream at these guns, these sabres, these 
bayonets, these savage faces. 

The two children awoke, and cried. 

" I am hungry, " said the first. 

" I am afraid, " said the other. 

The baby was still suckling ; the vivandière addressed 

" You are in the right of it, " said she. 

The mother was dumb with terror. The sergeant 
cried out to her : — 

" Do not be afraid ; we are the battalion of the Bonnet 
Eouge. " 

The woman trembled from head to foot. She stared 
at the sergeant, of whose rough visage there was nothing 
visible but the moustaches, the brows, and two burning 
coals for eyes. 

" Formerly the battalion of the Eed Cross, " added the 

The sergeant continued : " Who are you, madame ? " 

The woman scanned him, terrified. She was slender, 
young, pale, and in rags ; she wore the large hood and 
woollen cloak of the Breton peasant, fastened about her 
neck by a string. She left her bosom exposed with the 


indifference of an animal Her feet, shoeless ana stocfc- 
ingless, were bleeding. 

" It is a beggar, " said the sergeant 

The vivandière began anew, in a voice at once sol- 
dierly and feminine, but sweet, — 

" What is your name ? " 

The woman stammered so that she was scarcely 

u Michelle FÏéchard. » 

The vivandière stroked the little head of the sleeping 
babe with her large hand 

K What is the age of this mite ? " demanded she. 

The mother did not understand. The vivandière 

" T ask you> how old is it ? " 

u Ah! " said the mother ; K eighteen months. " 

* It is old, " said the vivandière ; " it ought not to 
suckle any longer. You must wean it ; we will give it 
soup. " 

The mother began to feel a certain confidence, The 
two children, who had awakened, were rather curious 
than scared. They admired the plumes of the soldiers. 

" Ah, w said the mother, " they are very hungry, * 

Then she added. " I have no more milk. " 

" We will give them something to eat, " cried the 
sergeant ; a and you too. But that 's not all. What 
are your political opinions ? " 

The woman looked at him, out did not reply, 

" Did you hear my question ? " 

She stammered, — 

"I was put into a convent very young — but i am 
married — I am not a nun. The sisters taught me to 
speak French. The village was set on fire. We ran 
away so quickly that I had not time to put on my 
shoes, " 


* I ask you, what are your political opinions ? * 

* I don't know what that means. " 
The sergeant continued, — 

" There are such things as female spies. We shoot 
spies. Come, speak ! You are not a gipsy ? Which is 
your side ? " 

She still looked at him as if she did not understand. 

The sergeant repeated, — 

a Which is your side ? " 

* I do not know, " she said. 

se How ? You do not know your own country. " 

* Ah, my country ! Oh, yes, I know that. " 
" Well, where is it ? " 

The woman replied, — 

" The farm of Siscoignard, in the parish of Aie. * 

It was the sergeant's turn to be stupefied. He re- 
mained thoughtful for a moment, then resumed : " You 
say — " 

" Siscoignard. " 

* That is not a country. " 

* It is my country, " said the woman ; and added, 
after an instant's reflection, " I understand, sir. You 
are from France ; I belong to Brittany. " 

a It is not the same neighbourhood. " 
" But it is the same country, " cried the sergeant. 
The woman only repeated, — 
" I am from Siscoignard. " 

:i Siscoignard be it," returned the sergeant 4t Youi 
family belong there ? " 
■ Yes. " 

* What is their occupation ? " 

" They are all dead ; I have nobody left. " 
The sergeant, who thought himself a fine talker, con 
tinued his interrogatories : — 


" What ? the devil t One has relations, or one has 
had. Who are you ? Speak ! " 

The woman listened, astounded by this : " Or one 
has had ! " which was more like the growl of an animal 
than any human sound. 

The vivandière felt the necessity of interfering. She 
began again to caress the babe, and to pat the cheeks of 
the two other children. 

" How do you call the baby ? " she asked. " It is a 
little girl — this one ? " 

The mother replied, " Georgette. " 

* And the eldest fellow ? For he is a man, the small 
rascal ! " 

" Bene- Jean. " 

" And the younger ? He is a man, too, and chubby- 
faced into the bargain. " 

K Gros- Alain, " said the mother. 

u They are pretty little fellows, " said the vivandière ; 
* they already look as if they were somebody. " 

Still the sergeant persisted. " Now, speak, madame I 
Have you a house ? " 

" I had one. 3 ' 

"Where was it?" 

K At Azé. " 

" Why are you not in your house ? " 

" Because they burned it " 

" Who ? r 

u I do not know — a battle. " 

" Where did you come from ? " 

" From there. " 

" Where are you going ? " 

" I don't know. " 

" Get to the facts ! Who are you ? " 

* I don't know." 

m You don't know who you are ? 3? 


' We are people who are running away. 5i 

" What party do you belong to ? " 

"I don't know." 

" Are you Blues ? Are you Whites ? Who are you 
with ? " 

" T am with my children. " 

There was a pause. The vivandière said, — 

" As for me, I have no children ; I have not had time. " 

The sergeant began again : — 

" But your parents ? See here, madame ! give us the 
facts about your parents. My name is Eadoub ; I am a 
sergeant, from the street of Cherche Midi; my father 
and mother, belonged there. I can talk about my 
parents ; tell us about yours. Who were they ? " 

" Their name was Fléchard, — that is all. " 

" Yes ; the Fléchards are the Fléchards, just as the 
Eadoubs are the Badoubs. But people have a calling. 
What was your parents' calling ? What was their busi- 
ness, these Fléchards of yours ? " 

" They were labourers. My father was sickly, and 
could not work on account of a beating that the lord — 
his lord — our lord — had given to him. It was a 
kindness, for my father had poached a rabbit, — a thing 
for which one was condemned to death ; but the lord 
showed him mercy, and said, c You need only give him 
a hundred blows with a stick ; ' and my father was left 
crippled. " 

" And then ? " 

" My grandfather was a Huguenot. The curé had 
him sent to the galleys. I was very little at the time. " 

" And then ? " 

" My husband's father smuggled salt. The king had 
him hung. " 

u And your husband, — what did he do ? " 

* Lately, he fought. " 


■ For whom ? " 

< For the king. " 

* And afterward ? " 

" Well, for his lordship. * 

" And next ? " 

u Well, then for the curé. " 

" A thousand names of brutes ! " cried a grenadier. 

The woman gave a start of terror. 

" You see, madame, we are Parisians, " said the vivan- 
dière, graciously. 

The woman clasped her hands, and exclaimed, — 

" O my God and blessed Lord ! " 

" No superstitious ejaculations ! " growled the sergeant. 

The vivandière seated herself by the woman, and 
drew the eldest child between her knees. He sub- 
mitted quietly. Children show confidence as they do 
distrust, without any apparent reason ; some internal 
monitor warns them. 

" My poor, good woman of this neighbourhood, " said 
the vivandière, " your brats are very pretty, — babies are 
always that. I can guess their ages. The big one is 
four years old ; his brother is three. Upon my word ! 
the little sucking poppet is a greedy one. Oh, the mon- 
ster ! Will you stop eating up your mother ? See here, 
madame, do not be afraid. You ought to join the bat- 
talion. Do like me, I call myself Houzarde. It is a 
nickname ; but I like Houzarde better than being called 
Mamzelle Bicorneau. like my mother. I am the canteen 
woman ; that is the same as saying, ' she who offers drink 
when they are firing and stabbing. ' Our feet are about 
the same size. I will give you a pair of my shoes. I 
was in Paris the 10th of August. I gave Westermann 
drink too. How things went ! I saw Louis XYI. guil- 
lotined, — Louis Capet, as they call him. It was against 
his will. Only just listen, now! To think that the 


13 til of January he roasted chestnuts and laughed with 
his family. When they forced him down on the see- 
saw, as they say, he had neither coat nor shoes, nothing 
but his shirt, a quilted waistcoat, grey cloth breeches, 
and grey silk stockings. I saw that, I did ! The hack- 
ney-coach they brought him in was painted green. See 
here ! come with us ; the battalion are good fellows. 
You shall be canteen number two ; I will teach you the 
business. Oh, it is very simple ! You have your can 
and your hand-bell ; away you go into the hubbub, with 
the platoons firing, the cannon thundering, — into the 
thickest of the row ; and you cry, ' Who '11 have a drop 
to drink, my children ? ' It ' s no more trouble than that. 
I give everybody and anybody a sup, yes, indeed, — 
Whites the same as Blues, though I am a Blue myself, and 
a good Blue, too ; but I serve them all alike. Wounded 
men are all thirsty. They die without any difference 
of opinions. Dying fellows ought to shake hands. 
How silly it is to go fighting ! Do you come with us. 
If I am killed, you will step into my place. You see I 
am only so-so to look at ; but I am a good woman, and 
a brave chap. Don 't you be afraid. " 

When the vivandière ceased speaking, the woman 
murmured, — 

" Our neighbour was called Marie Jeanne, and our 
servant was named Marie Claude. " 

In the mean time the sergeant reprimanded the 
grenadier : — 

" Hold your tongue ' You frighten madame. One 
does not swear before ladies. " 

* All the same ; it is a downright butchery for an 
honest man to hear about, " replied the grenadier ; " and 
to see Chinese Iroquois, that have had their fathers-in- 
law crippled by a lord, their grandfathers sent to the 
galleys by the priest, and their fathers hung by the 


king, and who fight — name of the little Black Man I — 
and mix themselves up with revolts, and get smashed 
for his lordship, the priest, and the king ' " 

" Silence in the ranks ' " cried the sergeant. 

" A man may hold his tongue, Sergeant, " returned the 
grenadier; " but that doesn't hinder the fact that it 's 
a pity to see a pretty woman like this running the risk 
of getting her neck broken for the sake of a dirty 
robber. " 

" Grenadier, " said the sergeant, " we are not in the 
Pike-club of Paris ; no eloquence ' " 

He turned toward the woman. 

" And your husband, madame ? What is he at ? What 
has become of him ? " 

" There hasn't anything become of him, because they 
killed him. " 

" Where did that happen ? 7 

" In the hedge. " 

" When ? " 

" Three days ago. w 

• Who did it ? " 

" I don't know. " 

" How ? You do not know who killed your husband ?* 

" No. " 

" W as it a Blue ? Was it a White ? " 

" It was a bullet. " 

" Three days ago ? " 

« Yes. " 

" In what direction ? " 

a Toward Ernée My husband fell, — that is all. * 

" And what have you been doing since your husband 
was killed ? " 

" I bear away my children. " 

" Where are you taking them ? * 

a Straight ahead. * 


* Where do you sleep ? " 

" On the ground. " 

" What do you eat ? " 

" Nothing. " 

The sergeant made that military grimace which makes 
the moustache touch the nose. 

" Nothing ? " 

" That is to say, sloes and dried berries left from last 
year, myrtle seeds, and fern shoots. " 

" Faith ! you might as well say ' nothing. ' " 

The eldest of the children, who seemed to understand, 
said, " I am hungry. " 

The sergeant took a bit of regulation bread from his 
pocket, and handed it to the mother. She broke the 
bread into two fragments, and gave them to the chil- 
dren, who ate with avidity. 

" She has kept none for herself, " grumbled the 

" Because she is not hungry, " said a soldier. 

" Because she is a mother, " said the sergeant 

The children interrupted the dialogue. 

" I want to drink, " cried one. 

" I want to drink, " repeated the other. 

" Is there no brook in this devil's wood? " asked ths 

The vivandière took the brass cup which hung at her 
belt beside her hand-bell, turned the cock of the can she 
carried slung over her shoulder, poured a few drops into 
the cup, and held it to the children's lips in turn. 

The first drank and made a grimace. The second 
drank and spat it out. 

" Nevertheless, it is good, " said the vivandière. 

" Is it some of the old cut-throat ? " asked the sergeant. 

" Yes, and the best ; but these are peasants, ? And 
she wiped her cup. 


The sergeant resumed : — 
" And so, madame, you are trying to escape ? * 
" There is nothing else left for me to do. " 
" Across fields — going whichever way chance directs ? w 
" I run with all my might, then I walk, then I 

" Poor villager ' " said the vivandière. 

* The people fight, " stammered the woman. " They 
are shooting all around me. I do not know what it is 
they wish. They killed my husband; that is all I 
understood. " 

The sergeant grounded the butt of his musket till the 
earth rang, and cried, — 

" What a beast of a war — in the hangman's name! " 

The woman continued, — 

" Last night we slept in an émousse. * 

* All four?" 
" All four. " 

" Slept. " 

" Then, " said the sergeant, " you slept standing. " 

He turned toward the soldiers : " Comrades, what 
these savages call an émousse is an old hollow tree-trunk 
that a man may fit himself into as if it were a sheath. 
But what would you ? We cannot all be Parisians. " 

" Slept in a hollow tree ? " exclaimed the vivandière. 
" And with three children ! " 

" And, " added the sergeant, " when the little ones 
howled, it must have been odd to anybody passing by 
and seeing nothing whatever, to hear a tree cry, ' Papa ! 


" Luckily it is summer, " sighed the woman. 

She looked down upon the ground in silent resigna- 
tion, her eyes filled with the bewilderment of wretched- 


The soldiers made a silent circle round this group of 
misery. A widow, three orphans ; flight, abandonment, 
solitude, war muttering around the horizon ; hunger, 
thirst; no other nourishment than the herbs of the field, 
no other roof than that of heaven. 

The sergeant approached the woman, and fixed his eye 
on the sucking, baby. The little one left the breast, 
turned its head gently, gazing with its beautiful blue 
orbs into the formidable hairy face, bristling and wild, 
which bent toward it, and began to smile. 

The sergeant raised himself, and they saw a great tear 
roll down his cheek and cling like a pearl to the end of 
his moustache. 

He lifted his voice : — 

" Comrades, from all this I conclude that the regiment 
is going to become a father. Is it agreed ? We adopt 
these three children ? " 

" Hurrah for the Republic ! " chorused the grenadiers 

" It is decided ! " said the sergeant. 

He stretched his two hands above the mother and her 

" Behold the children of the battalion of the Bonnet 
Rouge ! " 

The vivandière leaped for joy. 

" Three heads under one bonnet ! " cried she. 

Then she burst into sobs, embraced the poor widow 
wildly, and said to her, " What a rogue the little girl 
looks already ! " 

" Vive la République I " repeated the soldiers. 

And the sergeant said to the mother : — • 

u Come, citizeness ! " 





IN the spring of 1793, at the moment when France, 
simultaneously attacked on all its frontiers, suffered 
the pathetic distraction of the downfall of the Giron- 
dists, this was what happened in the Channel Islands. 

At Jersey, on the evening of the 1st of June, about 
an hour before sunset, a corvette set sail from the soli- 
tary little Bay of Bonnenuit, in that kind of foggy 
weather which is favourable to flight because pursuit is 
-rendered dangerous. The vessel was manned by a 
French crew, though it made part of the English fleet 
stationed on the look-out at the eastern point of the 
island. The Prince de la Tour d'Auvergne, who was of 
the house of Bouillon, commanded the English flotilla : 
and it was by his orders, and for an urgent and special 
service, that the corvette had been detached. 

This vessel, entered at Trinity House under the name 
of the " Claymore, " had the appearance of a transport or 
trader, but was in reality a war corvette. She had the 


heavy, pacific look of a merchantman ; but it would not 
have been safe to trust to that. She had been built for 
a double purpose, — cunning and strength : to deceive if 
possible, to fight if necessary. For the service before 
her this night, the lading of the lower deck had been 
replaced by thirty carronades of heavy calibre. Either 
because a storm was feared, or because it was desirable 
to prevent the vessel having a suspicious appearance, 
these carronades were housed, — that is to say, securely 
fastened within by triple chains, and the hatches above 
shut close. Nothing was to be seen from without. The 
ports were blinded ; the slides closed ; it was as if the 
corvette had put on a mask. Armed corvettes only 
carry guns on the upper deck ; but this one, built for 
surprise and cunning, had the deck free, and was able, 
as we have just seen, to carry a battery below. The 
" Claymore " was after a heavy, squat model, but a good 
sailer, nevertheless, — the hull of the most solid sort used 
in the English navy, — and in battle was almost as valu- 
able as a frigate, though for mizzen she had only a small 
mast of brigantine rig. Her rudder, of a peculiar and 
scientific form, had a curved frame, of unique shape, 
which cost fifty pounds sterling in the dockyards of 

The crew, all French, was composed of refugee officers 
and deserter sailors. They were tried men ; not one but 
was a good sailor, good soldier, and good royalist. They 
had a threefold fanaticism, — for ship, sword, and king. 

A half-regiment of marines, that could be disem- 
barked in case of need, was added to the crew. 

The corvette * Claymore " had as a captain chevalier of 
Saint Louis, Count du Boisberthelot, one of the best 
officers of the old Eoyal Navy; for second, the Cheva- 
lier La Vieuville, who had commanded a company of 
French guards in which Hoche was sergeant; and foT 


pilot, Philip Gacquoil, the most skilful mariner in 


It was evident that the vessel had unusual business 
on hand. Indeed, a man who had just come on board 
had the air of one entering upon an adventure. He was 
a tall old man, upright and robust, with a severe coun- 
tenance, whose age it would have been difficult to guess 
accurately, for he seemed at once old and young, — one of 
those men who are full of years and of vigour ; who have 
white hair on their heads and lightning in their glance ; 
forty in point of energy and eighty in power and author- 
ity. As he came on deck his sea-cloak blew open, ex- 
posing his large loose breeches and top-boots, and a goat- 
skin vest which had one side tanned and embroidered 
with silk, while on the other the hair was left rough and 
bristling, — a complete costume of the Breton peasant. 
These old-fashioned jackets answered alike for working 
and holidays : they could be turned to show the hairy or 
embroidered side, as one pleased, — goat-skin all the week, 
gala accoutrements on Sunday. As if to increase a re- 
semblance which had been carefully studied, the peasant 
dress worn by the old man was threadbare at the knees 
and elbows, and seemed to have been long in use, while 
his coarse cloak might have belonged to a fisherman. 
He had on his head the round hat of the period, — high, 
with a broad rim, which, when turned down, gave the 
wearer a rustic look, but took a military air when fas- 
tened up at the side with a loop and a cockade. The old 
man wore his hat with the brim flattened forward, peas- 
ant fashion, without either tassels or cockade. 

Lord Balcarras, the governor of the island, and the 
Prince de la Tour d'Auvergne, had in person conducted 
and installed him on board. The secret agent of the 
princes, Gélambre, formerly one of the Count d'Artois 's 
body-guard, had superintended the arrangement of the 


cabin ; and, although himself a nobleman, pushed courtesy 
and respect so far as to walk behind the old man, carrying 
his portmanteau. When they left him to go ashore again, 
Monsieur de Gélambre saluted the peasant profoundly ; 
Lord Balcarras said to him, " Good luck, General ! " and 
the Prince de la Tour d'Auvergne added, " Au revoir \ 
my cousin ! " 

" The peasant " was the name by which the crew im- 
mediately designated their passenger during the short 
dialogues which seamen hold ; but without understand- 
ing further about the matter, they comprehended that 
he was no more a peasant than the corvette was a com- 
mon sloop. 

There was little wind. The " Claymore " left Bonne- 
nuit, and passed in front of Boulay Bay, and was for 
some time in sight, tacking to windward ; then she les- 
sened in the gathering night, and finally disappeared. 

An hour after, Gélambre, having returned to his house 
at Saint Helier, sent by the Southampton express the 
following lines to the- Count d'Artois, at the Duke of 
York's headquarters, — 

Monseigneur, — The departure has just taken place. 
Success certain. In eight days the whole coast will be on 
fire from Granville to Saint Malo. 

Four days previous, Prieur, the representative of 
Marne, on a mission to the army along the coast of 
Cherbourg, and momentarily residing at Granville, had 
received by a secret emissary this message, written in 
the same hand as the dispatch above: — 

Citizen Kepresentative, — On the 1st of June, at the 
hour when the tide serves, the war corvette (i Claymore, " with 
a masked battery, will set sail for the purpose of landing 


upon the shore of France a man of whom this is a descrip- 
tion : tall, old, white hair, peasant's dress, hands of an 
aristocrat. I will send you more details to-morrow. He 
will land on the morning of the 2d. Warn the cruisers ; 
capture the corvette j guillotine the man. 

f ff9 




THE corvette, instead of going south and making for 
Saint Catherine's, headed north, then veered to 
the west, and resolutely entered the arm of the sea be- 
tween Sark and Jersey, called the Passage de la Deronte. 
At that time there was no lighthouse upon any point 
along either coast. The sun had set clear; the night 
was dark, — darker than summer nights ordinarily are ; 
there was a moon, but vast clouds, rather of the equinox 
than the solstice, veiled the sky, and according to all 
appearance the moon would not be visible till she 
touched the horizon at the moment of setting. A few 
clouds hung low upon the water and covered it with 

All this obscurity was favourable. 

The intention of Pilot Gacquoil was to leave Jersey 
on the left and Guernsey on the right, and to gain, by 
bold sailing between the Hanois and the Douvree, some 
bay of the Saint Malo shore, — a route less short than 
that by the Minquiers, but safer, as the Trench cruisers 
had standing orders to keep an especially keen watch 
between Saint Helier and Granville. If the wind were 
favourable, and nothing occurred, Gacquoil hoped by 
setting all sail to touch the French coast at daybreak. 

All went well. The corvette had passed Gros-Nez. 
Toward nine o'clock the weather looked sulky, as sailors 
say, and there were wind and sea; but the wind was 


good and the sea strong without being violent. Still, 
now and then the waves swept the vessel's bows. 

The " peasant, " whom Lord Balcarras had called 
" General, " and whom the Prince de la Tour d'Auvergne 
addressed as " My cousin, " had a sailor's footing, and 
paced the deck with tranquil gravity. He did not even 
seem to notice that the corvette rocked considerably. 
From time to time he took a cake of chocolate out of his 
pocket and munched a morsel : his white hair did not 
prevent his having all his teeth. 

He spoke to no one, except now and then a few low 
quick words to the captain, who listened with defer- 
ence, and seemed to consider his passenger, rather than 
himself, the commander. 

The " Claymore, " ably piloted, skirted unperceived in 
the fog the long escarpment north of Jersey, hugging 
the shore on account of the formidable reef Pierres de 
Leeq, which is in the middle of the channel between 
Jersey and Sark. Gacquoil, standing at the helm, sig- 
nalled in turn the Grève de Leeq, Gros-Nez, and Piémont, 
and slipped the corvette along among this chain of reefs, 
feeling his way to a certain extent, but with certitude, 
like a man familiar with the course and acquainted with 
the disposition of the sea. The corvette had no light 
forward, from a fear of betraying its passage through 
these guarded waters. The fog was a cause for rejoiciug. 
They reached the Grande Étaque. The mist was so 
thick that the outlines of the lofty pinnacle could 
scarcely be made out. Ten o'clock was heard to sound 
from the belfry of Saint Ouen, a proof that the wind 
was still abaft. All was yet going well. The sea grew 
rougher on account of the neighbourhood of La Corbière, 

A little after ten. Count de Boisberthelot and the 
Chevalier La Vieuville reconducted the man in the peas- 
ant's garb to his cabin, which was in reality the cap- 


tain's state-room. As he went in, he said to them in 
a low voice : — 

" Gentlemen, you understand the importance of se- 
crecy. Silence up to the moment of explosion. You 
two are the only ones here who know my name. " 

" We will carry it with us to the tomb, " replied 

" As for me, " added the old man, " were I in face of 
death, I would not tell it. " 

He entered his cabin. 



THE commander and the second officer returned on 
deck and walked up and down, side by side, in 
conversation. They were evidently talking of their 
passenger, and this was the dialogue which the wind 
dispersed among the shadows. 

Boisbert helot grumbled in a half -voice in the ear of 
La Vieuville : — 

" We shall see if he is really a leader. " 

La Vieuville replied. " in the mean time he is a 
prince. " 

" Almost. " 

" Nobleman in France, but prince in Brittany. n 

" Like the La Trémoilles ; like the Eohans. " 

" "With whom he is connected. " 

Boisberthelot resumed : — 

" In France, and in the king's carriages, he is mar- 
quis, as I am count, and you are chevalier. * 

" The carriages are far off ! " cried La Vieuville. " We 
have got to the tumbrel. " 

There was a silence. 

Boisberthelot began again : — ■ 

* For lack of a French prince, a Breton one is taken. " 

" For lack of thrushes, — no, for want of an eagle, — 
a crow is chosen. " 

" I should prefer a vulture, " said Boisberthelot. 

And La Vieuville retorted, — 


u Yes, indeed ! a beak and talons. " 

" We shall see. " \ v 

" Yes, " resumed La Yieuville, " it is time there was a 
head. I am of Tinteniac's opinion : ' A true chief, and 
— gunpowder!' See, Commander ; I know nearly all 
the leaders, possible and impossible, — those of yester- 
day, those of to-day, and those of to-morrow; there is 
not one with the sort of headpiece we need. In that 
accursed Vendée it wants a general who is a lawyer at 
the same time. He must worry the enemy, dispute 
every mill, thicket, ditch, pebble ; quarrel with him ; 
take advantage of everything; see to everything; 
slaughter plentifully ; make examples ; be sleepless, 
pitiless. At this hour there are heroes among that army 
of peasants, but there are no captains. D'Elbée is nil ; 
Lescure is ailing ; Bonchampe shows mercy, — he is 
kind, that means stupid ; La Bochejacquelein is a mag- 
nificent sub-lieutenant ; Silz an officer for open country, 
unfit for a war of expedients ; Cathelineau is a simple 
carter; Stofflet is a cunning gamekeeper; Bérard is 
inept ; Boulainvilliers is ridiculous ; Charette is shock- 
ing. And I do not speak of the barber Gaston. For, 
in the name of Mars ! what is the good of opposing the 
Eevolution, and what is the difference between the re- 
publicans and ourselves, if we set hairdressers- to com- 
mand noblemen ? " 

" You see that beast of a Eevolution has infected us 
$lso. " 

* An itch that France has caught. " 

'" An itch of the Third Estate, " replied Boisberthelot. 

" It is only England that can cure us of it. " 

" And she will cure us, do not doubt it, Captain. " 

* In the mean while it is ugly. " 

" Indeed, yes. Clowns everywhere ! The monarchy 
which has for commander-in-chief Stofflet, the game- 


keeper of M. de Maulevrier, has nothing to envy in the 
republic that has for minister, Pache, son of the Duke 
de Castries 's porter. What men this Vendean war brings 
out against each other ! On one side San terre the brewer, 
on the other Gaston the wigmaker ! " 

" My dear Vieuville, I have a certain respect for 
Gaston. He did not conduct himself ill in his com- 
mand of Gueménée. He very neatly shot three hundred 
Blues, after making them dig their own graves. " 

" Well and good ; but I could have done that as well 
as he. " 

" Zounds ! no doubt ; and I also. " 

" The great acts of war, " resumed La Vieuville, " re- 
quire to be undertaken by noblemen. They are matters 
for knights and not hairdressers. " 

" Still, there are some estimable men among this 
' Third Estate, ' " returned Boisberthelot. " Take, for 
example, Joby the clockmaker. He had been a ser- 
geant in a Flanders regiment ; he gets himself made a 
Vendean chief ; he commands a coast band ; he has a 
son who is a Eepublican, and while the father serves 
among the Whites, the son serves among the Blues. 
Encounter. Battle. The father takes the son prisoner, 
and blows out his brains. " 

" He 's a good one, " said La Vieuville. 

" A royalist Brutus, " replied Boisberthelot. 

" All that does not hinder the fact that it is insup- 
portable to be commanded by a Coquereau, a Jean-Jean, a 
Mouline, a Focart, a Bouju, a Chouppes ! " 

" My dear chevalier, the other side is equally disgusted. 
We are full of plebeians ; they are full of nobles. Do 
you suppose the sansculottes are content to be commanded 
by the Count de Canclaux, the Viscount de Miranda, 
the Viscount de Beauharnais, the Count de Valence, the 
Marquis de Custine, and the Duke de Biron. " 


* What a hash ! " 

" And the Duke de Chartres ! " 

" Son of Égalité. Ah, then, when will he ever be 
king ? " 
" Never. " 

* He mounts toward the throne. He is aided by his 
crimes. " 

" And held back by his vices, " said Boisberthelot. 

There was silence again ; then Boisberthelot continued : 

" Still, he tried to bring about a reconciliation. He 
went to see the king. I was at Versailles when some- 
body spat on his back. " 

" From the top of the grand staircase ? " 

" Yes. " 

" It was well done. " 7 

" We call him Bourbon the Bourbeux. " 

" He is bald ; he has pimples ; he is a regicide — 
poh ! " 

Then La Yieuville added, — 

" I was at Ouessant with him. " 

"On the ' Saint Esprit'?" 

" Yes. " 

" If he had obeyed the signal that the Admiral 
d'Orvilliers made him, to keep to the windward, he 
would Jiave kept the English from passing. " 

" Certainly. " 

* Is it true that he was hidden at the bottom of the 
hold ? " 

" No ; but it must be said all the same. " 

And La Vieuville burst out laughing. 

Boisberthelot observed, — ^ 

" There are idiots enough. Hold ! That Boulainvilliers 
you were speaking of, La Vieuville, — I knew him. I 
had a chance of studying him. In the beginning, the 
peasants were armed with pikes : if he did not get it 


into his head to make pikemen of them! He wanted 
to teach them the manual of exercise, de la piquc~en-biais 
et de la pique-trainante-le-fer-dévant. He dreamed of 
transforming those savages into soldiers of the Line. He 
proposed to show them how to mass battalions and form 
hollow squares. He jabbered the old-fashioned military 
dialect to them ; for ' chief of a squad, ' he said un cap 
d'escade, which was the appellation of corporals under 
Louis XIV. He persisted in forming a regiment ot 
those poachers : he had regular companies. The ser- 
geants ranged themselves in a circle every evening to 
take the countersign from the colonel's sergeant, who 
whispered it to the sergeant of the lieutenants ; he re- 
peated it to his neighbour, and he to the man nearest ; 
and so on, from ear to ear, down to the last. He cash- 
iered an officer because he did not stand bareheaded to 
receive the watchword from the sergeant's mouth. You 
can fancy how all succeeded. The booby could not un- 
derstand that peasants must be led peasant fashion, and 
that one cannot make drilled soldiers out of woodchop- 
pers. Yes, I knew that Boulainvilliers. " 

They moved on a few steps, each pursuing his own 
thoughts. Then the conversation was renewed. 

" By the way, is it true that Dampierre is killed ? " 

" Yes, Commander. " 

° Before Condé ? " 

" At the camp of Pamars, by a gunshot. * 

Boisberthelot sighed. 

" The Count de Dampierre. Yet another of ours who 
went over to them ! " 

" A good journey to him, " said La Vieuville. 

" And the princesses — where are they ? " 

a At Trieste. " 

■ Still ? " 

" Still. Ah, this republic ! " cried Vieuville. " What 


havoc from such slight consequences ! When one thinks 
that this revolution was caused by the deficit of a few 
millions. " 

" Distrust small outbreaks, " said Boisberthelot. 

" Everything is going badly, " resumed La Vieuville. 

" Yes ; La Kouarie is dead ; Du Dresnay is an idiot. 
What pitiful, leaders all those bishops are, — that Coney, 
Bishop of Eochelle ; that Beaupoil Samt-Aulaire, Bishop 
of Poitiers ; that Mercy, Bishop of Lueon and lover of 
Madame de 1 'Eschasserie — " 

" Whose name is Servanteau, you know, Commander ; 
L 'Eschasserie is the name of an estate. " 

" And that false Bishop of Agra, who is curé of I 
know not what. " 

" Of Dpi. He is called Guillot de Folleville. At 
least" he is brave, and he fights." 

" Priests when soldiers are needed ! Bishops who are 
not bishops ! Generals who are no generals ! " 

La Vieuville interrupted Boisberthelot. 

" Commander, have s you the 'Moniteur ' in your 
cabin ? " 

" Yes, " 

" What are they playing in Paris just now ? " 

" 'Adèle and Poulin, ' and ' The Casern. ' " 

-' I should v ke to see that. " 

"-You will be able to. We shall be at Paris in a 
month. " 

Boisberthelot reflected a moment, and added, — 

" At the latest. Mr, Windham said so to Lord 
Hood. " 

" But then, Captain, everything is not going so ill. " 

" Zounds ! everything would go well, on condition 
that the war in Brittany could be properly conducted. " 

La Vieuville shook his head. 

" Commander, '" he asked, " do we land the marines ? * 


" Yes, if the coast is for us, not if it is hostile. Some- 
times war must break down doors, sometimes slip in 
quietly. Civil war ought always to have a false key in 
its pocket. We shall do all in our power. The most 
important is the chief. " 

Then Boisberthelot added thoughtfully : — 

" La Vieuville, what do you think of the Chevalier de 
Dieugie ? " 

" The younger ? " 

" Yes. " 

" For a leader ? " 

" Yes. " 

* That he is another officer for open country and pitched 
battles. Only the peasant understands the thickets. " 

" Then resign yourself to General Stofflet and to Gen- 
eral Cathelineau. " 

La Vieuville mused a while, and then said, " It needs 
a prince, — a prince of France, a prince of the blood, a 
true prince. " 

" Why ? Whoever says prince — " 

* Says poltroon. I know it, Captain. But one is 
needed for the effect on the big stupid eyes of the coun- 
try lads. " 

" My dear chevalier, the princes will not come. " 

" We will get on without them. " 

Boisberthelot pressed his hand upon his forehead with 
the mechanical movement of a man endeavouring to 
bring out some idea. He* exclaimed, — 

" Well, let us try the general we have here. " 

" He is a great nobleman. " 

" Do you believe he will answer ? " 

" Provided he is strong. " 

" That is to say, ferocious, " said Boisberthelot. 

The count and the chevalier looked fixedly at each 


" Monsieur du Boisberthelot, you have said the word, 
— ferocious. Yes ; that is what we need. This is a 
war without pity. The hour is to the bloodthirsty. 
The regicides have cut off Louis XVI. 's head ; we will 
tear off the four limbs of the regicides. Yes, the gen- 
eral necessary is General Inexorable. In Anjou and 
Upper Poitou the chiefs do the magnanimous ; they 
dabble in generosity : nothing moves on. In the Ma- 
rais and the country of Eetz, the chiefs are ferocious : 
everything goes forward. It is because Charette is sav- 
age that he holds his own against Parrein ; it is hyaena 
against hyaena. " 

Boisberthelot had no time to reply; La Vieuville's 
words were suddenly cut short by a desperate cry, and 
at the same instant they heard a noise as unaccountable 
as it was awful. The cry and this noise came from the 
interior of the vessel. 

The captain and lieutenant made a rush for the gun- 
deck, but could not get down. All the gunners were 
Imrrying frantically up. 

A frightful thing had just happened. 



ONE of the carronades of the battery, a twenty -four 
pounder, had got loose. 

This is perhaps the most formidable of ocean acci- 
dents. Nothing more terrible can happen to a vessel in 
open sea and under full sail. 

A gun that breaks its moorings becomes suddenly 
some indescribable supernatural beast. It is a machine 
which transforms itself into a monster. This mass tarns 
upon its wheels, has the rapid movements of a billiard- 
ball ; rolls with the rolling, pitches with the pitching ; 
goes, comes, pauses, seems to meditate ; resumes its 
course, rushes along the ship from end to end like an 
arrow, circles about, springs aside, evades, rears, breaks, 
kills, exterminates. It is a battering-ram which as- 
saults a wall at its own caprice. Moreover, the batter- 
ing-ram is metal, the wall wood. It is the entrance of 
matter into liberty. One might say that this eternal 
slave avenges itself. It seems as if the power of evil 
hidden in what we call inanimate objects finds a vent 
and bursts suddenly out. It has an air of having lost 
patience, of seeking some fierce, obscure retribution; 
nothing more inexorable than this rage of the inanimate. 
The mad mass has the bounds of a panther, the weight 
of the elephant, the agility of the mouse, the obstinacy 
of the axe, the unexpectedness of the surge, the rapidity 


of lightning, the deafness of the tomb. It weighs ten 
thousand pounds, and it rebounds like a child's ball. 
Its flight is a wild whirl abruptly cut at right angles. 
What is to be done ? How to end this ? A tempest 
ceases, a cyclone passes, a wind falls, a broken mast is 
replaced, a leak is stopped, a fire dies out ; but how to 
control this enormous brute of bronze ? In what way 
can one attack it ? 

You can make a mastiff hear reason, astound a bull, 
fascinate a boa, frighten a tiger, soften a lion ; but there 
is no resource with that monster, — a cannon let loose 
You cannot kill it, — it is dead ; at the same time it 
lives. It lives with a sinister life bestowed on it by 

The planks beneath it give it play. It is moved by 
the ship, which is moved by the sea, which is moved 
by the wind. This destroyer is a plaything The ship, 
the waves, the blasts, all aid it ; hence its frightful 
vitality. How to assail this fury of complication ? 
How to fetter this monstrous mechanism for wrecking 
a ship ? How foresee its comings and goings, its re- 
turns, its stops, its shocks? Any "one of these blows 
upon the sides may stave out the vessel. How divine 
its awful gyrations ! One has to deal with a projectile 
which thinks, seems to possess ideas, and which changes 
its direction at each instant. How stop the course of 
something which must be avoided ? The horrible cannon 
flings itself about, advances, recoils, strikes to the right, 
strikes to the left, flees, passes, disconcerts ambushes, 
breaks down obstacles, crushes men like flies. The great 
danger of the situation is in the mobility of its base. 
How combat an inclined plane which has caprices ? The 
ship, so to speak, has lightning imprisoned in its womb 
which seeks to escape ; it is like thunder rolling above 
an earthquake. 


In an instant the whole crew were on foot. The 
fault was the chief gunner's ; he had neglected to fix 
home the screw-nut of the mooring-chain, and had so 
badly shackled the four wheels of the carronade that the 
play given to the sole and frame had separated the plat- 
form, and ended by breaking the breeching. The cord- 
age had broken, so that the gun was no longer secure on 
the carriage. The stationary breeching which prevents 
recoil was not in use at that period. As a heavy 
wave struck the port, the carronade, weakly attached, 
recoiled, burst its chain, and began to rush wildly 
about. Conceive, in order to have an idea of this 
strange sliding, a drop of water running down a pane 
of glass. 

At the moment when the lashings gave way the gun- 
ners were in the battery, some in groups, others stand- 
ing alone, occupied with such duties as sailors perform 
in expectation of the command to clear for action. The 
carronade, hurled forward by the pitching, dashed into 
this knot of men, and crushed four at the first blow; 
then, flung back and shot out anew by the rolling, it cut 
in two a fifth poor fellow, glanced off to the larboard 
side, and struck a piece of the battery with such force 
as to unship it. Then rose the cry of distress which 
had been heard. The men rushed toward the ladder; 
the gun-deck emptied in the twinkling of an eye. The 
enormous cannon was left alone. She was given up to 
herself. She was her own mistress, and mistress of the 
vessel. She could do what she willed with both. This 
whole crew, accustomed to laugh in battle, trembled 
now. To describe the universal terror would be 

Captain Boisberthelot and Lieutenant Vieuville, al- 
though both intrepid men, stopped at the head of the 
stairs, and remained mute, pale, hesitating, looking 


down on the deck. Some one pushed them aside with 
his elbow and descended. 

It was their passenger, the peasant, — the man of 
whom they had been speaking a moment before. 

When he reached the foot of the ladder, he stood still. 



THE cannon came and went along the deck. One 
might have fancied it the living chariot of the 
Apocalypse. The marine-lantern, oscillating from the 
ceiling, added a dizzying whirl of lights and shadows to 
this vision. The shape of the cannon was undistinguish- 
able from the rapidity of its course ; now it looked black 
in the light, now it cast weird reflections through the 

It kept on its work of destruction. It had already 
shattered four other pieces, and dug two crevices in the 
side, fortunately above the water-line, though they would 
leak in case a squall should come on. It dashed itself 
frantically against the frame-work ; the solid tie-beams 
resisted, their curved form giving them great strength, 
but they creaked ominously under the assaults of this 
terrible club, which seemed endowed with a sort of ap- 
palling ubiquity, striking on every side at once. The 
strokes of a bullet shaken in a bottle would not be madder 
or more rapid. The four wheels passed and repassed above 
the dead men, cut, carved, slashed them, till the five 
corpses were a score of stumps rolling about the deck ; 
the heads seem to cry out ; streams of blood twisted in 
and out of the planks with every pitch of the vessel. 
The ceiling, damaged in several places, began to gape. 
The whole ship was filled with the awful tumult. 

The captain promptly recovered his composure, and at 
his order the sailors threw down into the deck everything 


which could deaden and check the mad rush of the gun, 
■ — mattresses, hammocks, spare sails, coils of rope, extra 
equipments, and the bales of false assignats of which the 
corvette carried a whole cargo : an infamous deception 
which the English considered a fair trick in war. 

But what could these rags avail ? No one dared de- 
scend to arrange them in any useful fashion, and in a 
few instants they were mere heaps of lint. 

There was just sea enough to render an accident as 
complete as possible. A tempest would have been de- 
sirable, — it might have thrown the gun upside down; 
and the four wheels once in the air, the monster could 
have been mastered. But the devastation increased. 
There were gashes and even fractures in the masts, 
which, imbedded in the woodwork of the keel, pierce 
the decks of ships like great round pillars. The mizzen 
mast was cracked, and the main-mast itself was injured 
under the convulsive blows of the gun. The battery was 
being destroyed. Ten pieces out of the thirty were dis- 
abled ; the breaches multiplied in the side, and the cor- 
vette began to take in water. 

The old passenger, who had descended to the gun- 
deck, looked like a form of stone stationed at the foot of 
the stairs. He stood motionless, gazing sternly about 
upon the devastation. Indeed, it seemed impossible to 
take a single step forward. 

Each bound of the liberated carronade menaced the 
destruction of the vessel. A few minutes more and 
shipwreck would be inevitable. 

They must perish or put a summary end to the disas- 
ter. A decision must be made — ■ but how ? 

What a combatant — this cannon' 

They must check this mad monster. They must seize 
this flash of lightning. They must overthrow thie 


Boisberthelot said to La Vieuville : — 

" Do you believe in God, Chevalier ? " 

La Vieuville replied, — 

" Yes. No. Sometimes. " 

" In a tempest ? " 

" Yes ; and in moments like this. * 

" Only God can aid us here, " said Boisberthelot. 

All were silent : the cannon kept up its horrible 

The waves beat against the ship ; their blows from 
without responded to the strokes of the cannon. 

It was like two hammers alternating. 

Suddenly, into the midst of this sort of inaccessible 
circus, where the escaped cannon leaped and bounded, 
there sprang a man with an iron bar in his hand. It 
was the author of this catastrophe, — the gunner whose 
culpable negligence had caused the accident; the cap- 
tain of the gun. Having been the means of bringing 
about the misfortune, he desired to repair it. He had 
caught up a handspike in one fist, a tiller-rope with a 
slipping-noose in the other, and jumped down into the 

Then a strange combat began, a titanic strife, — the 
struggle of the gun against the gunner ; a battle between 
matter and intelligence ; a duel between the inanimate 
and the human. 

The man was posted in an angle, the bar and rope in 
his two fists; backed .against one of the riders, settled 
firmly on his legs as on two pillars of steel , livid, calm, 
tragic, rooted as it were in the planks, he waited. 

He waited for the cannon to pass near him. 

The gunner knew his piece, and it seemed to him 
that she must recognize her master. He had lived a 
long while with her. How many times he had thrust 
his hand between her jaws ! It was his tame mon- 


ster. He began to address it as he might have done 
his dog. 

"'' Come ! " said he. Perhaps he loved it. 

He seemed to wish that it would turn toward him. 

But to come toward him would be to spring upon 
him. Then he would be lost. How to avoid its crush ? 
There was the question. All stared in terrified silence. 

Not a breast respired freely, except perchance that of 
the old man who alone stood in the deck with the two 
combatants, a stern second. 

He might himself be crushed by the piece. He did 
not stir. 

Beneath them, the blind sea directed the battle. 

At the instant when, accepting this awful hand-to- 
hand contest, the gunner approached to challenge the 
cannon, some chance fluctuation of the waves kept it for 
a moment immovable, as if suddenly stupefied. 

" Come on ! " the man said to it. It seemed to listen. 

Suddenly it darted upon him. The gunner avoided 
the shdck. 

The struggle began, — struggle unheard of. The frag- 
ile matching itself against the invulnerable. The thing 
of flesh attacking the brazen brute. On the one side 
blind force, on the other a soul. 

The whole passed in a half-light. It was like the in- 
distinct vision of a miracle. 

A soui; — strange thing ; but you would have said that 
the cannon had one also, — a soul filled with rage and 
hatred. This blindness appeared to have eyes. The 
monster had the air of watching the man. There was 
— one might have fancied so at least — cunning in this 
mass. It also chose its moment. It became some 
gigantic insect of metal, having, or seeming to have, 
the will of a demon. Sometimes this colossal grass- 
hopper would strike the low ceiling of the gun-deck. 


then fall back on its four wheels like a tiger upon its 
four claws, and dart anew on the man. He, supple, 
agile, adroit, would glide away like a snake from the 
reach of these lightning-like movements. He avoided 
the encounters ; but the blows which he escaped fell 
upon the vessel and continued the havoc. 

An end of broken chain remained attached to the 
carronade. This chain had twisted itself, one could not 
tell how, about the screw of the breech-button. One 
extremitv of the chain was fastened to the carriage. 
The other, hanging loose, whirled wildly about the gun 
and added to the danger of its blows. 

The screw held it like a clinched hand, and the chain 
multiplying the strokes of the battering-ram by its 
strokes of a thong, made a fearful whirlwind about the 
cannon, — a whip of iron in a fist of brass. This chain 
complicated the battle. 

Nevertheless, the man fought. Sometimes, even, it 
was the man who attacked the cannon. He crept along 
the side, bar and rope in hand, and the cannon had the 
air of understanding, and fled as if it perceived a snare. 
The man pursued it, formidable, fearless. 

Such a duel could not last long. The gun seemed 
suddenly to say to itself, " Come, we must make an 
end ! " and it paused. One felt the approach of the 
crisis. The cannon, as if in suspense, appeared to have, 
or had, — because it seemed to all a sentient being. — a 
furious premeditation. It sprang unexpectedly upon the 
gunner. He jumped aside, let it pass, and cried out 
with a laugh, " Try again ! " The gun, as if in a fury, 
broke a carronade to larboard ; then, seized anew by the 
invisible sling which held it, was flung to starboard 
toward the man, who escaped. 

Three carronades gave way under the blows of the 
gun ; then, as if blind and no longer conscious of what 


It was doing, it turned its back on the man, rolled from 
the stern to the bow, bruising the stem and making a 
breach in the plankings of the prow. The gunner had 
taken refuge at the foot of the stairs, a few steps from 
the old man, who was watching. 

The gunner held his handspike in rest. The cannon 
seemed to perceive him, and, without taking the trouble 
to turn itself, backed upon him with the quickness 
of an axe-stroke. The gunner, if driven back against 
the side was lost. • The crew uttered a simultaneous 

But the old passenger, until now immovable, made a 
spring more rapid than all those wild whirls. He seized 
a bale of the false assignats, and at the risk of being 
crushed, succeeded in flinging it between the wheels of 
the carronade. This manoeuvre, decisive and dangerous, 
could not Jiave been executed with more adroitness and 
precision by a man trained to all the exercises set down 
in Durosel's " Manual of Sea Gunnery. " 

The bale had the effect of a plug. A pebble may 
stop a log, a tree-branch turn an avalanche. The car- 
ronade stumbled. The gunner, in his turn, seizing 
this terrible chance, plunged his iron bar between the 
spokes of one of the hind wheels. The cannon was 

It staggered. The man, using the bar as a lever, 
rocked it to and fro. The heavy mass turned over with 
a clang like a falling bell, and the gunner, dripping 
with sweat, rushed forward headlong and passed the 
slipping-noose of the tiller-rope about the bronze neck 
of the overthrown monster. 

It was ended. The man had conquered. The ant 
had subdued the mastodon ; the pygmy had taken the 
thunderbolt prisoner. 

The marines and the sailors clapped their hands. 


The whole crew hurried down with cables and chains, 
and in an instant the cannon was securely lashed. 

The gunner saluted the passenger. 

" Sir, " he said to him, " you have saved my life. " 

The old man had resumed his impassible attitude, and 
did not reply. 



THE man had conquered, but one might say that 
the cannon had conquered also. Immediate ship- 
wreck had been avoided, but the corvette was by no 
means saved. The dilapidation of the vessel seemed 
irremediable. The sides had five breaches, one of which, 
very large* was in the bow. Out of the thirty carron- 
ades, twenty lay useless in their frames. The carron- 
ade, which had been captured and rechained, was itself 
disabled : the screw of the breech-button was forced, and 
the levelling of the piece impossible in consequence. 
The battery was "reduced to nine pieces. The hold had 
sprung a leak. It was necessary at once to repair the 
damages and set the pumps to work. 

The gun-dêck, now that one had time to look about it, 
offered a terrible spectacle. The interior of a mad ele- 
phant's cage could not have been more completely 

However great the necessity that the corvette should 
escape observation, a still more imperious necessity pre- 
sented itself,' — immediate safety. It had been necessary 
to light up the deck by lanterns placed here and there 
along the sides. 

But during the whole time this tragic diversion had 
lasted, the crew were so absorbed by the one question of 
life or death that they noticed little what was passing 
outside the scene of the duel. The fog had thickened ; 


the weather had changed ; the wind had driven the ves« 
sel at will ; it had got out of its route, in plain sight oi 
Jersey and Guernsey, farther to the south than it ought 
to have gone, and was surrounded by a troubled sea. 
The great waves kissed the gaping wounds of the cor- 
vette, — kisses full of peril. The sea rocked her men- 
acingly. The breeze became a gale. A squall, a tempest 
perhaps, threatened. It was impossible to see before 
one four oars' length. 

While the crew were repairing summarily and in 
haste the ravages of the gun-deck, stopping the leaks 
and putting back into position the guns which had es- 
caped the disaster, the old passenger had gone on deck. 

He stood with his back against the main-mast. 

He had paid no attention to a proceeding which had 
taken place on the vessel The Chevalier La Vieuville 
had drawn up the marines in line on either side of the 
main-mast, and at the whistle of the boatswain the 
sailors busy in the rigging stood upright on the yards. 

Count du Boisberthelot advanced toward the passenger. 

Behind the captain marched a man, haggard, breath- 
less, his dress in disorder, yet wearing a satisfied look 
under it all. It 'was the gunner who had just now so 
opportunely shown himself a tamer of monsters, and who 
had got the better of the, cannon. 

The count made a military salute to the unknown in 
peasant garb, and said to him : — 

" General, here is the man. " 

The gunner held himself erect, his eyes downcast, 
standing in a soldierly attitude. 

Count du Boisberthelot continued, — 

" General, taking into consideration what this man 
has done, do you not think there is something for his 
commanders to do ? " 

" I think there is, " said the old man. 


" Be good enough to give the orders, " returned 

" It is for you to give them. You are the captain. n 

" But you are the general, " answered Boisberthelot. 

The old man looked at the gunner. 

"' Approach, " said he. 

The gunner moved forward a step. The old man 
turned toward Count du Boisberthelot, detached the 
cross of Saint Louis from the captain's uniform and 
fastened it on the jacket of the gunner. 

" Hurrah ! " cried the sailors. 

The marines presented arms. The old passenger, 
pointing with his finger toward the bewildered gunner, 
added, — 

" Now let that man be shot. " 

Stupor succeeded the applause. 

Then, in the midst of a silence like that of the tomb, 
the old man raised his voice. He said, — 

"A negligence has endangered this ship. At this 
moment she is perhaps lost. To be at sea is to face the 
enemy. A vessel at open sea is an army which gives 
battle. The- tempest conceals, but does not absent it- 
self. The whole sea is an ambuscade. Death is the 
penalty of any fault committed in the face of the enemy. 
No fault is reparable. Courage ought to be rewarded 
and negligence punished. " 

These words fell one after the other, slowly, solemnly, 
with a sort of inexorable measure, like the blows of an 
axe upon an oak. 

And the old man, turning to the soldiers, added, — 

a Do your duty. " 

The man upon whose breast shone the cross of Saint 
Louis bowed his head 

At a sign from Count du Boisberthelot, two sailors 
descended between decks, then returned, bringing the 


hammock winding-sheet. The ship's chaplain, who 
since the time of sailing had been at prayer in the offi- 
cers ' quarters, accompanied the two sailors ; a sergeant 
detached from the line twelve marines, whom he ar- 
ranged in two ranks, six by six; the gunner, without 
uttering a word, placed himself between the two files. 
The chaplain, crucifix in hand, advanced and stood near 

" March ! " said the sergeant. 

The platoon moved with slow steps toward the bow. 
The two sailors who carried the shroud followed. 
< A gloomy silence fell upon the corvette. A hurricane 
moaned in the distance. 

A fewc instants later there was a flash ; a report fol- 
lowed, echoing among the shadows ; then all was silent ; 
then came the thud of a body falling into the sea. 

The old passenger still leaned back against the main- 
mast with folded arms, thinking silently. 

Boisberthelot pointed toward him with the forefinger 
of his left hand, and said in a low voice to La Vieuville : 

" The Vendée has found a head I * 



BUT what was to become of the corvette ? 
The clouds, which the whole night through had 
touched the waves, now lowered so thickly that the 
horizon was no longer visible ; the sea seemed to be 
covered with a pall. Nothing to be seen but fog, — a 
situation always perilous, even for a vessel in good 

Added to the mist came the surging swell. 

The time had been used to good purpose : the corvette 
had been lightened by throwing overboard everything 
which could -be cleared from the havoc made by the 
carronade, — the dismantled guns, the broken carriages, 
frames twisted or unnailed, the fragments of splintered 
wood and iron ; the port-holes had been opened, and the 
corpses and parts of bodies, enveloped in tarpaulin, were 
slid down planks into the waves. 

The sea was no longer manageable. Not that the 
tempest was imminent ; it seemed, on the contrary, that 
the hurricane rustling behind the horizon decreased, 
and the squall was moving northward; but the waves 
were very high still, which indicated disturbance in the 
depths. The corvette could offer slight resistance to 
shocks in her crippled condition, so that the great waves 
might prove fatal to her. 


Gacquoil stood thoughtfully at the helm. 

To face ill-fortune with a bold front is the habit of 
those accustomed to rule at sea. 

La Vieuville, who was the sort of man that becomes 
gay in the midst of disaster, accosted Gacquoil. 

" Well, pilot, " said he, " the squall has missed fire. 
Its attempt at sneezing comes to nothing. We shall 
get out of it. We shall have wind, and that is all. " 
' Gacquoil replied, seriously, " Where there is wind 
there are waves. " 

Neither laughing nor sad, such is the sailor. The 
response had a disquieting significance. For a leaky 
ship to encounter a high sea is to fill rapidly. Gacquoil 
emphasized his prognostic by a frown. Perhaps La 
Vieu ville had spoken almost jovial and gay words a 
little too soon after the catastrophe of the gun and its 
gunner. There are things which bring bad luck at sea. 
The ocean is secretive ; one never knows what it means 
to do ; it is necessary to be always on guard against it. 

La Vieuville felt the necessity of getting back to 

" Where are we, pilot ? " he asked. 

The pilot replied, — 

" We are in the hands of God. " 

A pilot is a master ; he must always be allowed to 
do what he will, and often he must be allowed to say 
what he pleases. Generally this species of man speaks 

La Vieuville moved away. He had asked a question 
of the pilot; it was the horizon which replied. The 
sea suddenly cleared. 

The fogs which trailed across the waves were quickly 
rent; the dark confusion of the billows spread out to 
the horizon's verge in a shadowy half-light, and this 
was what became visible: — 


The sky seemed covered with a lid of clouds, but they 
no longer touched the water; in the east appeared a 
whiteness, which was the dawn ; in the west trembled 
a corresponding pallor, which was the setting moon. 
These two ghostly presences drew opposite each other 
narrow bands of pale lights along the horizon, between 
the sombre sea and the gloomy sky. 

Across each of these lines of light were sketched black 
profiles, upright and immovable. 

To the west, against the moonlight sky, stood out 
sharply three lofty rocks,' erect as Celtic cromlechs. 

To the east, against the pale horizon of morning, rose 
eight sail, ranged in order at regular intervals in a for- 
midable array. 

The three rocks were a reef; the eight ships, a 

Behind the vessel was the Minquiers, — a rock of an 
evil renown ; before her, the French cruisers. To the 
west, the abyss ; to the east, carnage : she was between 
a shipwreck and a combat. 

For meeting the reef, the corvette had a broken hull, 
rigging disjointed, masts tottering in their foundations ; 
for facing battle, she had a battery where one-and- 
twenty cannon out of thirty were dismounted, and whose 
best gunners were dead. 

The dawn was yet faint ; there still remained a little 
night to them. This might even last for some time, 
since it was principally made by thick, high clouds pre- 
senting the solid appearance of a vault. 

The wind, which had succeeded in dispersing the lower 
mists, was forcing the corvette toward the Minquiers. 

In her excessive feebleness and dilapidation, she 
scarcely obeyed the helm ; she rolled rather than sailed, 
and, smitten by the waves, she yielded passively to 
their impulse. 


The Minquiers, a dangerous reef, was still more 
rugged at that time than it is now. Several towers of 
this citadel of the abyss have been razed by the inces- 
sant chopping of the sea. The configuration of reefs 
changes. It is not idly that waves are called the 
swords of the ocean ; each tide is the stroke of a saw. 
At that period, to strike on the Minquiers was to 

As for the cruisers, they were the squadron of Cancale, 
afterward so celebrated under the command of that Cap- 
tain Duchesne whom Léquinio called Father Duchesne. 

The situation was critical. During the struggle of 
the unchained carronade, the corvette had, unobserved, 
got out of her course, and sailed rather toward Granville 
than Saint Malo. Even if she had been in a condition 
to have been handled and to carry sail, the Minquiers 
would have barred her return toward Jersey, and the 
cruisers would have prevented her reaching France. 

For the rest, tempest there was none. But, as the 
pilot had said, there was a swell. The sea, rolling 
under a rough wind and above a rocky bottom, was 

The sea never says at once what it wishes. The gulf 
hides everything, even trickery. One might almost say 
that the sea has a plan. It advances and recoils ; it pro- 
poses and contradicts itself; it sketches a storm and 
renounces its design ; it promises the abyss, and does 
not hold to it; it threatens the north, and strikes the 

All night the corvette " Claymore " had had the fog 
and the fear of the storm. The sea had belied itself, but 
in a savage fashion ; it had sketched in the tempest, but 
developed the reef. It was shipwreck just the same,, 
under another form. 

So that to destruction upon the rocks was added ex- 


termination by combat, — one enemy complementing the 


La Vieuville cried amid his brave merriment: — 

" Shipwreck here — battle there ! We have thrown 

double fives ! " 


9 = 380. 

nr^HE corvette was little more than a wreck. 

-*■ In the wan, dim light, midst the blackness oi 
the clouds, in the confused, changing line of the horizon, 
in the mysterious sullenness of the waves, there was a 
sepulchral solemnity. Except for the hissing breath of 
the hostile wind, all was silent. The catastrophe rose 
with majesty from the gulf. It resembled rather an 
apparition than an attack. Nothing stirred among the 
rocks; nothing moved on the vessels. It wa .3 an in- 
describable, colossal silence. Had they to deal with 
something real ? One might have believed it a dream 
sweeping across the sea ; there are legends of such 
visions. The corvette was in a manner between the 
demon reef and the phantom fleet. 

Count du Boisberthelot gave orders in a half-voice to 
La Vieuville, who descended to the gun-deck ; then the 
captain seized his telescope and stationed himself at the 
stern by the side of the pilot. 

Gacquoil's whole effort was to keep the corvette to the 
wind ; for if struck on the side by the wind and the sea, 
she would inevitably capsize. 

" Pilot, " said the captain, " where are we ? * 

" Off the Minquiers. " 

* On which side ? " 
■ The bad one. " 

* What bottom ? " 

9 = 380. 53 

* Small rocks. » 

* Can we turn broadside on ? " 

" We can always die, " said the pilot. 

The captain levelled his glass toward the west and 
examined the itylinquiers ; then he turned to the east 
and studied the sail in sight. 

The pilot continued, as if talking to himself: — 

" It is the Minquiers. It is where the laughing sea 
mew and the ^reat black-hooded gull rest, when they 
make for Holland.," 

In the mean time the captain counted the sail. 

There were, indeed, eight vessels, drawn up in line, 
and lifting their- warlike profiles above the water. Id 
the centre was seen the lofty sweep of a three-decker. 

The captain questioned the pilot. 

" Do you know those ships ? " 

" Indeed, yes ! " replied Gacquoil. 

" What are they ? " 

" It is the squadron. " 

" Of France ? " 

" Of the devil. " 

There was a silence. The captain resumed : — 

" The whole body of cruisers are there. " 

" Not all. " 

In fact, on the 2d of April, Valazé had announced to 
the Convention that ten frigates and six ships-of-the- 
line were cruising in the Channel. The recollection of 
this came into the captain's mind. 

" Eight, " said he ; " the squadron consists of sixteen 
vessels. There are only eight here. " 

" The rest, * said Gacquoil, " are lagging below, the 
whole length of the coast, and on the look-out. " 

The captain, still with his glass to his eye, murmured : 

" A three-decker, two first-class frigates, and five 
second-class. " 


" But I, too, " growled Gacquoil, " have marked them 

" Good vessels, " said the captain. " I have done some- 
thing myself toward commanding them. " 

" As for me, " said Gacquoil, " I have seen them close 
by. I do not mistake one for the other. I have their 
description in my head. " 

The captain handed his telescope to the pilot. 

" Pilot, can you make out the three-decker clearly ? " 

" Yes, Captain ; it is the ' Côte d'Or. ' " 

" Which they have rebaptized, " said the captain. 
" She was formerly the ' États de Bourgogne. ' A new 
vessel ; a hundred and twenty-eight guns. " 

He took a pencil and note-book from his pocket, and 
made the figure 128 on one of the leaves. 

He continued, — 

" Pilot, what is the first sail to larboard ? " 

" It is the ' Expérimentée/ The — * 

" First-class frigate. Fifty-two guns. She was fitted 
out at Brest two months since. " 

The captain marked the figure 52 on his note-book. 

" Pilot, " he asked, " what is the second sail to 
larboard ? " 

" The ' Dryade. * " 

" First-class frigate. Forty eighteen-pounders. She 
has been in India. She has a good naval reputation. " 

And beneath the 52 he put the figure 40 ; then lifting 
his head: — 

" Now, to starboard. " 

" Commander, those are all second-class frigates. 
There are five of them. " 

" Which is the first, starting from the three-decker ? " 

" The ' Eésolute. ' " 

* Thirty-two pieces of eighteen. And the second ? " 

* The f Eichemont. ' " 

9 s= 380. 66 

" Same. The next ? 8 

" The ' Athéiste. ' " 1 

" Odd name to take to sea. What next ? " 

"«The ' Calypso. '' ■ 

* And then ? " 

" ' La Preneuse. ' " 

" Five frigates, each of thirty-two guns. " 

The captain wrote 160 below the first figures. 

" Pilot, " said he, " you recognize them perfectly. n 

* And you, " replied Gacquoil — - " you know them well, 
Captain. To recognize is something ; to know is better. " 

The captain had his eyes fixed on his note-book, and 
added between his teeth : — 

" One hundred and twenty-eight, fifty-two, forty, a 
hundred and sixty. " 

At this moment La Vieuville came on deck again. 

" Chevalier, " the captain cried out to him, " we are in 
sight of three hundred and eighty cannon. " 

" So be it, " said La Vieuville. 

* You come from the inspection, La Vieuville : how 
many guns, exactly, have we fit for firing ? " 

u "JsTine. " 

" So be it, " said Boisberthelot, in his turn. 

He took the telescope from the pilot's hands and 
studied the horizon. 

The eight vessels, silent and black, seemed motion- 
less, but they grew larger. 

They were approaching imperceptibly. 

La Vieuville made a military salute. 

" Commander, " said he, " this is my report. I dis- 
trusted this corvette ' Claymore. ' It is always annoy- 
ing to embark suddenly on a vessel that does not know 
you or that does not love you. English ship — traitor 
to Frenchman. That slut of a carronade proved it I 

1 Marine Archives : State of the Fleet in 1793. 


have made the round. Anchors good. They are not 
made of half-finished iron, but forged bars soldered 
under the tilt-hammer. The flukes are solid. Cables 
excellent, easy to pay out; regulation length, a hun- 
dred and twenty fathoms. Munitions in plenty. Six 
gunners dead. A hundred and seventy-one rounds 
apiece. " 

" Because there are but nine pieces left, " murmured 
the captain. 

Boisberthelot levelled his telescope with the horizon. 
The squadron was still slowly approaching. 

The carronades possess one advantage, — three men are 
enough to work them ; but they have one inconvenience, 
— they do not carry so far nor aim so true as guns. It 
would be necessary to let the squadron get within range 
of the carronades. 

The captain gave his orders in a low voice. There 
was silence throughout the vessel. No signal to clear 
for battle had been given, but it was done. The cor- 
vette was as much disabled for combat with men as 
against the waves. Everything that was possible was 
done with this ruin of a war-vessel. By the gangway 
near the tiller-ropes were heaped all the hawsers and 
spare cables for strengthening the masts in case of need. 
The cockpit was put in order for the wounded. Accord- 
ing to the naval use of that time, the deck was barri- 
caded, which is a guaranty against balls but not against 
bullets. The bail-gauges were brought, although it was 
a little late, to verify the calibres; but so many in- 
cidents had not been foreseen. Each sailor received a 
cartridge-box, and stuck into his belt a pair of pistols 
and a dirk. The hammocks were stowed away, the 
artillery pointed, the musketry prepared, the axes and 
grapplings laid out, the cartridge and bullet stores made 
ready, and the powder-room opened. Every man was 

9 = m). 57 

at his post. All was done without a word being spoken, 
like arrangements carried on in the chamber of a dying 
person. All was haste and gloom. 

Then the corvette showed her broadside. She had six 
anchors, like a frigate. The whole six were cast, — the 
cockbill anchor forward, the kedger aft, the flood-anchor 
toward the open, the ebb-anchor on the side to the rocks, 
the bower-anchor to starboard, and the sheet-anchor to 

The nine carronades still in condition were put into 
form: the whole nine on one side, — that toward the 
enemy. I 

The squadron had on its part not less silently com- 
pleted its manoeuvres. The eight vessels now formed 
a semicircle, of which the Minquiers made the chord. 
The " Claymore, " enclosed in this semicircle, and into 
the bargain tied down by her anchors, was backed 
by the reef, — that is to say, by shipwreck. 

It was like a pack of hounds about a wild boar, not 
yet giving tongue, but showing their teeth. 

It seemed as if on the one side and the other they 
awaited some signal. 

The gunners of the " Claymore " stood to their pieces. 

Boisberthelot said to La Vieuville : — ■ 

* I should like to open fire. " 

8 A coquette's whim, " replied La Vieuville. 




^TPHE passenger had not quitted the deck ; he watched 
-*- all the proceedings with the same impassible 

Boisberthelot approached. 

" Sir, " he said to him, " the preparations are complete. 
We are now lashed fast to our tomb ; we shall not let 
go our hold. We are the prisoners of either the squad- 
ron or the reef. To yield to the enemy, or founder 
among the rocks : we have no other choice. One re- 
source remains to us, — to die. It is better to fight than 
be wrecked. I would rather be shot than drowned ; in 
the matter of death, I prefer fire to water. But dying 
is the business of the rest of us ; it is not yours. You 
are the man chosen by the princes ; you are appointed 
to a great mission, — the direction of the war in Vendee. 
Yoi> i loss is perhaps the monarchy lost ; therefore you 
must live. Our honour bids us remain here ; yours bids 
you go. General, you must quit the ship. I am going 
to give you a man and a boat. To reach the coast by a 
detour is not impossible. It is not yet day ; the waves 
are high, the sea is dark; you will escape. There are 
cases when to fly is to conquer. " 

The old man bowed his stately head in sign of 

Count du Boisberthelot raised his voice :•— 

" Soldiers and sailors ! " he cried. 


Every movement ceased ; from each point of the ves- 
sel all faces turned toward the captain. 
He continued : — 
" This man who is among us represents the king. He 

has been confided to us ; we must save him. He is 

i j 

necessary to the throne of France ; in default of a prince 
he will be, — at least this is what we try for — the 
leader in the Vendée. He is a great general. He was 
to have landed in France with us ; he must land with- 
out us. To save the head is to save all. " 

" Yes ! yes ! yes ! " cried the voices of the whole crew. 

The captain continued : — 

" He is about to risk, he also, serious danger. It will 
not be easy to reach the coast. In order to face the 
angry sea the boat should be large, and should be small 
in order to escape the cruisers. What must be done is 
to make land at some safe point, and better toward 
Fougères than in the direction of Coutances. It needs 
an athletic sailor, a good oarsman and swimmer, who 
belongs to this coast, and knows the Channel. There 
is night enough, so that the boat can leave the corvette 
without being perceived. And besides, we are going 
to have smoke, which will serve to hide her. The 
boat's size will help her through the shallows. Where 
the panther is snared, the weasel escapes. There is 
no outlet for us ; there is for her. The boat will row 
rapidly off N ; the enemy's ships will not see her: and 
moreover, during that time we are going to amuse them 
ourselves. Is it decided ? " 

* Yes ! yes ! yes ! " cried the crew. 

" There is not an instant to lose, " pursued the captain. 
" Is there any man willing ? " 

A sailor stepped out of the ranks in the darkness, and 
said, " L " 



A FEW minutes later, one of those little boats called 
a " gig, " which are especially appropriated to the 
captain's service, pushed off from the vessel. There 
were two men in this boat, — the old man in the stern, 
and the sailor who had volunteered in the bow. The 
night still lingered. The sailor, in obedience to the 
captain's orders, rowed vigorously in the direction of 
the Minquiers. For that matter, no other issue was pos 
sible. Some provisions had been put into the boat, — a 
bag of biscuit, a smoked ox-tongue, and a cask of water. 

At the instant the gig was let down, La Vieuville, a 
scoffer even in the presence of destruction, leaned over 
the corvette's stern-post, and sneered this farewell to 
the boat : — 

" She is a good one if one want to escape, and excel- 
lent if one wish to drown. " 

" Sir, " said the pilot, " let us laugh no longer. " 

The start was quickly made, and there was soon a 
considerable distance between the boat and the cor- 
vette. The wind and the waves were in the oarsman's 
favour; the little bark fled swiftly, undulating through 
the twilight, and hidden by the height of the waves. 

The sea seemed to wear a look of sombre, indescriba- 
ble expectation. 

Suddenly, amid the vast and tumultuous silence of 
the ocean, rose a voice, which, increased by the speak- 
ing-trumpet as if by the brazen mask of antique tragedy, 
sounded almost superhuman. 



It was the voice of Captain Boisberthelot giving his 
commands : " Eoyal marines, " cried he, " nail the white 
flag to the mam -mast. We are about to see our last 
sunrise. " 

And the corvette fired its first shot. 

" Long live the king ! " shouted the crew. 

Then from the horizon's verge echoed an answering 
shout, immense, distant, confused, yet 'distinct nevei\ 
theless : — 

" Long live the Eepublic ! " 

And a din like the peal of three hundred thunderbolts 
burst over the depths of the sea. 

The battle began. 

The sea was covered with smoke and fire. Streams 
of foam, made by the tailing bullets, whitened the 
waves on every side. 

The " Claymore " began to spit flame on the eight 
vessels. At the same time the whole squadron, ranged 
in a half -moon about the corvette, opened fire from all 
its batteries. The horizon was in a blaze. A volcano 
seemed to have burst suddenly out of the sea. Tne 
wind twisted to and fro the vast crimson banner of 
battle, amid which the ships appeared and disappeared 
like phantoms. 

In front 1 the black skeleton of the corvette showed 
against the red background. 

The white banner, with its fleur-de-lis, could be seen 
floating from the main. 

The two men seated in the little boat kept silence. 
The triangular shallows of the Minquiers, a sort of sub- 
marine Trinacrium, is larger than the entire island of 
Jersey. The sea covers it. It has for culminating point 
a platform which even the highest tides do not reach, 
from whence six mighty rocks detach themselves toward 
the northeast, ranged iD a straight line, and producing 


the effect of a great wall, which has crumbled here and 
there. The strait between the plateau and the six reefs 
is only practicable to boats drawing very little water. 
Beyond this strait is the open sea. 

The sailor who had undertaken the command of the 
boat made for this strait. By that means he put the 
Minquiers between the battle and the little bark. He 
manoeuvred thé narrow channel skilfully, avoiding the 
reefs to larboard and starboard. The rocks now masked 
the conflict. The lurid light of the horizon, and the 
awful uproar of the cannonading, began to lessen as the 
distance increased; but the continuance of the reports 
proved that the corvette held firm, and meant to ex- 
haust to the very last her one hundred and seventy-one 
broadsides. Presently the boat reached safe water, be- 
yond the reef, beyond the battle, out of reach of the 

Little by little the face of the sea became less dark ; 
the rays, against which the darkness struggled, widened ; 
the foam burst into jets of light, and the tops of the 
waves gave back white reflections. 

Day appeared. 

The boat was out of danger so far as the enemy was 
concerned, but the most difficult part of the task re- 
mained. She was saved from grape-shot, but not from 
shipwreck. She was a mere egg-shell, in a high sea, 
without deck, without sail, without mast, without com- 
pass, having no resource but her oars, in the presence of 
the ocean and the hurricane, — an atom at the mercy of 

Then, amid this immensity, this solitude, lifting his 
face, whitened by the morning, the man in the bow of 
the boat looked fixedly at the one in the stern, and said : 

" I am the brother of him you ordered to be shot " 





THE old man slowly raised his head. He who had 
spoken was a man of about thirty. His forehead 
was brown with sea- tan ; his eyes were peculiar : they 
had the keen glance of a sailor in the open pupils of a 
peasant. He held the oars vigorously in his two hands. 
His air was mild. 

In his belt were a dirk, two pistols, and a rosary. 

" Who are you ? " asked the old man. 

" I have just told you. " 

" What do you want with me ? " 

The sailor shipped the oars, folded his arms, and 
replied, — 

" To kill you. " 

" As you please, " said the old man. 

The other raised his voice : — 

" Get ready ! " 

" For what ? " 

" To die. " 

" Why ? " asked the old man. 

There was a silence. The sailor seemed for an instant 
confused by the question. He repeated : — 

" I say that I mean to kill you. " 


" And I ask you, what for ? " 

The sailor's eyes Hashed lightning: — 

M Because you killed my brother. " 

The old man replied with perfect calmness : — 

" I began by saving his life. " 

" That is -true. You saved him first, then you killed 
him. " 

" It was not I who killed him. " 

" Who, then ? " 

" His own fault. " 

The sailor stared open-mouthed at the old man ; then 
his eyebrows met again in their murderous frown. 

" What is your name ? " asked the old man. 

" Halmalo ; but you do not need to know my name in 
order to be killed by me. " 

At this moment the sun rose. A ray struck full upon 
the sailor's face, and vividly lighted up that savage coun- 
tenance. The old man studied it attentively. ' 

The cannonading, though it still continued, was 
broken and irregular. A vast cloud of smoke weighed 
down the horizon. The boat, no longer directed by the 
oarsman, drifted to leeward. 

The sailor seized in his right hand one of the pistols 
at his belt, and the rosary in his left. 

The old man raised himself to his full height. 

" You believe in God ? " said he. 

" Our Father which art in heaven, " replied the sailor ; 
and he made the sign of the cross. 

" Have you a mother ? " 

" Yes. " 

He made a second sign of the cross. Then he resumed : 

" It is all said. I give you a minute, my lord. " And 
he cocked the pistol. 

" Why do you call me ' my lord ' ? " 

" Because you are a lord. That is plain enough to be 
seen. " 

"The old man raised himself to his full height.' 


" Have you a lord — you ? " 

u Yes, and a grand one. Does one live without a 

" Where is he ? " , 

" I don't know. He has left this country. He is 
called ,the Marquis de Lantenac, Viscount de Fontenay, 
Prince in Brittany ; he is the lord of the Seven Forests. 
I never saw him, but that does not prevent his being 
my master. " 

" And if you were to see him, would you obey him ? " 

" Indeed, yes. Why, I should be a heathen if ^1 did 
not obey him. I owe obedience to God; then to the 
king, who is like God ; and then to the lord, who is like 
the king. But we have nothing to do with all that. 
You killed my brother ; I must kill you. " 

The old man replied, — 

" Agreed ; I killed your brother. Ï did well. " 

The sailor clinched the pistol more tightly. 

" Come, " said he. 

" So be it, " said the old man. Still perfectly com- 
posed, he added, " Where is the priest ? " 

The sailor stared at him. 

" The priest ? " 

" Yes ; the priest. I gave your brother a priest ; 
you owe me one. " 

" I have none, " said the sailor. And he continued, 
" Are priests to be found out at sea ? " 

The convulsive thunderings of battle sounded more 
and more distant. 

" Those who are dying yonder have theirs, " said the 
old man. 

" That is true, " murmured the sailor ; " they have the 
chaplain. " 

The old man continued : " You will lose me my soul ; 
that is a serious matter. 5> 


The sailor bent his head in thought. 

" And in losing me my soul, " pursued the old man, 
" you lose your own. Listen. I have pity on you. 
Do what you choose. As for me, I did my duty a little 
while ago, — first, in saving your brother's life, and 
afterward in taking it from him ; and I am doing my 
duty now in trying to save your soul. Reflect It is 
your affair. Do you hear the cannon-shots at this in- 
stant ? There are men perishing yonder, there are des- 
perate creatures dying, there are husbands who will 
never again see their wives, fathers who will never 
again see their children, brothers who, like you, will 
never again see their brothers. And by whose fault? 
Your brother's — yours ! You believe in God, do you not ? 
Well, you know that God suffers in this moment; he 
suffers in the person of his Most Christian Son the King 
of France, who is a child as Jesus was, and who is a pris- 
oner in the fortress of the Temple. God suffers in his 
Church of Brittany; he suffers in his insulted cathe- 
drals, his desecrated Gospels, in his violated houses 
of prayer, in his murdered priests. What did we in- 
tend to do, we, with that vessel which is perishing at 
this instant? We were going to succour God's children. 
If your brother had been a good servant, if he had faith- 
fully done his duty like a wise and prudent man, the 
accident of the carronade would not have occurred, the 
corvette would not have been disabled, she would not 
have got out of her course, she would not have fallen in 
with this fleet of perdition, and at this hour we should 
be landing in France, — all, like valiant soldiers and 
seamen as we were, sabre in hand, the white flag un- 
furled, numerous, glad, joyful; and we should have 
gone to help the brave Vendean peasants to save France, 
to save the king; we should have been doing God's 
work. This was what we meant to do ; this was what 



we should have done. It is what I — the only one who 
remains — ■ set out to do. But you oppose yourself 
thereto. In this contest of the impious against the 
priests, in this strife of the regicides against the king, 
in this struggle of Satan against God, you are on the 
devil's side. Your brother was the demon's first auxil- 
iary ; you are the second. He commenced ; you finish. 
You are with the regicides against the throne ; you are 
with die impious against the Church. You take away 
from God his last resource. Because I shall not be there, 
— I, who represent the king, — the hamlets will continue 
to burn, families to weep, priests to bleed, Brittany to 
suffer, the king to remain in prison, and Jesus Christ to 
be in distress. And who will have caused this ? You ! 
Go on; it is your \ affair. I depended on you to he]p 
bring about just the contrary of all this. I deceived 
myself. Ah, yes ! it is true, — you are right : I killed 
your brother. Your brother was courageous ; I recom- 
pensed that. He was culpable ; I punished that. He 
had failed in his duty ; I did not fail in mine. What 
I did, I would do again. And I swear by the great 
Saint Anne, of Auray, who sees us, that in a similar 
case I would shoot my son just as I shot your brother. 
Now you are master. Yes, I pity you. You have lied 
to your captain. You, Christian, are without faith ; 
you, Breton, are without honour. I was confided to 
your loyalty and accepted by your treason ; you offer my 
death to those to whom you had promised my life. Do 
you know who it is you are destroying here ? It is 
yourself. You take my life from the king, and you 
give your eternity to the devil. Go on ; commit your 
crime,— it is well. You sell cheaply your share in Para- 
dise. Thanks to you, the devil will conquer; thanks 
to you, the churches will fall ; thanks to you, the 
heathen will continue to melt the bells and make can- 


non of them. They will shoot men with that which 
used to warn souls ! At this moment in which I speak 
to you, perhaps the bell that rang for your baptism is 
killing your mother. Go on ; aid the devil, — do not 
hesitate. Yes, I condemned your brother; but know 
this : I am an instrument of God. Ah, you pretend to 
judge the means God uses ! Will you take it on your- 
self to judge Heaven's thunderbolt? Wretched man, 
you will be judged by it ! Take care what you do. Do 
you even know whether I am in a state of grace ? No. 
Go on, all the same. Do what you like. You are free 
to cast me into hell, and to cast yourself there with me. 
Our two damnations are in your hand. It is you who 
will be responsible before God. We are alone ; face to 
face in the abyss. Go on — finish — make an end. I am 
old and you are young; I am without arms and you 
are armed ; kill me ! " 

While the old man stood erect, uttering these words 
in a voice louder than the noise of the sea, the undula- 
tions of the waves showed him now in the shadow, now 
in the light. The sailor had grown lividly white ; great 
drops of sweat fell from his forehead ; he trembled like 
a leaf ; he kissed his rosary again and again. When the 
old man finished speaking, he threw down his pistol 
and fell on his knees. 

" Mercy, my lord ! Pardon me ! " he cried ; " you 
speak like God. I have done wrong. My brother did 
wrong. I will try to repair his crime. Dispose of me t 
Command ; I will obey. " 

" I give you pardon, " said the old man. 



THE provisions which had been put into the boat 
proved most acceptable. The two fugitives, 
obliged to make long detours, took thirty-six hours to 
reach the coast. They passed a night at sea; but the 
night was fine, though there was too much moon to be 
favourable to those seeking concealment. 

They were obliged firsjt to row away from France, and 
gain the open sea toward Jersey. 

They heard the last broadside of the sinking corvette 
as one hears the final roar of the lion whom the hunters 
are killing in the wood. Then a silence fell upon the sea. 

The '"' Claymore " died like the a Avenger, " but glory 
has ignored her. The man who fights against his own 
country is never a hero. 

Halmalo was a marvellous seaman. He performed 
miracles of dexterity and intelligence ; his improvisa- 
tion of a route amid the reefs, the waves, and the 
enemy's watch was a masterpiece. The wind had 
slackened and the sea grown calmer. Halmalo avoided 
the Caux des Minquiers, coasted the Chaussée-aux-Bœufs. 
and in order that they might have a few hours' rest, 
took shelter in the little creek on the north side, practi- 
cable at low water; then, rowing southward again, 
found means to pass between Granville and the Chausey 
Islands without being discovered by the look-out either 
of Granville or Chausey. He entered the bay of Saint- 


Michael, — a bold undertaking, on account of the neigh- 
bourhood of Cancale, an anchorage for the cruising 

About an hour before sunset on the evening of the 
second day, he left Saint Michael's Mount behind him, 
and proceeded to land on a beach deserted because the 
shifting sands made it dangerous. 

Fortunately the tide was high. 

Halmalo drove the boat as far up as he could, tried 
the sand, found it firm, ran the bark aground, and sprang 
on shore. The old man strode over the side after him 
and examined the horizon. 

" Monseigneur, " said Halmalo, " we are here at the 
mouth of the Couesnon. There is Beauvoir to starboard, 
and Huisnes to larboard. The belfry in front of us is 
Ardevon. " 

The old man bent down to the boat and took a bis- 
cuit, which he put in his pocket, and said to Halmalo : 

" Take the rest. " 

Halmalo put the remains of the meat and biscuit into 
the bag and slung it over his shoulder. This done, he 
said : — 

" Monseigneur, must I conduct or follow you ? " 

" Neither the one nor the other. " 

Halmalo regarded the speaker in stupefied wonder. 

The old man continued : — 

" Halmalo, we must separate. It will not answer to 
be two. There must be a thousand or one alone. " 

He paused, and drew from one of his pockets a green 
silk bow, rather like a cockade, with a gold fleur-de-lis 
embroidered in the centre. He resumed : — 

" Do you know how to read ? " 

8 No. " 

" That is fortunate. A man who can read is trouble- 
some. Have you a good memory ? " 


' Yes. n 

" That will do. Listen, Halmalo. You must take to 
the right and I to the left. I shall go in the direction 
of Fougères, you toward Bazouges. Keep your bag ; it 
gives you the look of a peasant. Conceal your weapons. 
Cut yourself a stick in the thickets. Creep among the 
fields of rye, which are high. Slide behind the hedges. 
Climb the fences in order to go across the meadows. 
Leave passers-by at a distance. Avoid the roads and 
the bridges. Do not enter Pontorson. Ah ! you will 
have to cross the Couesnon. How will you manage ? " 

8 I shall swim. " 

" That 's right. And there is a ford — do you know 
where it is ? " 

" Between Ancey and Vieux-Viel. " 

" That is right. You do really belong to the country. " 

" But night is coming on. Where will Monseigneur 
sleep ? " 

" I can take care of myself. And you — where will 
you sleep ? " 

" There are hollow trees. I was a peasant before I 
was a sailor. " 

"Throw away your sailor's hat; it will betray you. 
You will easily find a woollen cap. " 

" Oh, a peasant's thatch is to be found anywhere. 
The first fisherman will sell me his. " 

" Very good. Now listen. You know the woods ? " 

" All of them. " 

" Of the whole district ? " 

:i From Noirmoutier to Laval. " 

:i Do you know their names too ? " 

" I know the woods ; I know their names ; I know 
about everything. " 

" You will forget nothing ? " 

a Nothing. w 


" Good ! At present, attention. How many leagues 
can you make in a day ? " 

" Ten, fifteen — twenty, if necessary. " 

" It will be. Do not lose a word of what I am about 
to say. You will go to the wood of Samt-Aubin. " 

" Near Lamballe ? " 

" Yes. On the edge of the ravine between Saint- 
Reuil and Plédiac there is a large chestnut-tree. You 
will stop there. You will see no one. " 

" Which will not hinder somebody's being there. I 
know. " 

" You will give the call. Do you know how to 
give the call?" 

Halmalo puffed out his cheeks, turned toward the sea, 
and there sounded the " to-whit, to-hoo " of an owl. 

One would have said it came from the night-locked 
recesses of a forest. It was sinister and owl-like. 

" Good !" said the old man. " You have it. " 

He held out the bow of green silk to Halmalo. 

" This is my badge of command. Take it. It is im- 
portant that no one should as yet know my name ; but 
this knot will be sufficient. The fleur-de-lis was em- 
broidered by Madame Royale -in the Temple prison. " 

Halmalo bent one knee to the ground. He trembled 
as he took the flower-embroidered knot, and brought it 
near to his lips, then paused, as if frightened at this 

" Can I ? " he demanded. 

" Yes, since you kiss the crucifix. " 

Halmalo kissed the fleur-de-lis. 

" Rise, " said the old man. 

Halmalo rose and hid the knot in his breast. 

The old man continued : — 

" Listen well to this. This is the order : Up ! Revolt ! 
No quarter ! On the edge of this wood of Saint-Aubin 


you will give the call. You will repeat it thrice. The 
third time you will see a man spring out of the ground. " 

" Out of a hole under the trees. I know. " 

" This man will be Planchenault, who is also called 
the King's Heart. You will show him this knot. He 
will understand. Then, by routes you must find out, 
you will go to the wood of Astillé ; there you will find 
a cripple, who is surnained Mousqueton, and who shows 
pity to none. You will tell him that I love him, and 
that he is to set the parishes in motion. From there you 
will go to the wood of Couesbon, which is a league from 
Ploërmel. You will give the owl-cry ; a man will come 
put of a hole. It will be Thuault, seneschal of Ploërmel, 
who has belonged tè what is called the Constituent As- 
sembly, but on the good side. You will tell him to 
arm the castle of Couesbon, which belongs to the Mar- 
quis de Guer, a refugee. Eavines, little woods, ground 
uneven, --a good place. Thuault is a clever, straight- 
forward man. Thence you will go to Saint-Guen-les- 
Toits, and you will talk with Jean Chouan, who is, in 
my mind, the real chief. From thence you will go to 
the wood of Vilie-Anglose, where you will see Guitter, 
whom they call Saint Martin ; you will bid him have 
his eye on a certain Courmesnil, who is the son-in-law 
of old Goupil de Préfeln, and who leads the Jacobinery 
of Argentan. Kecoilect all this. I write nothing, be- 
cause nothing should be written. La Eouarie made out 
a list ; it ruined all. Then you will go to the wood of 
Rougefeu, where is Miélette, who leaps the ravine on a 
long pole. " 

" It is called a leaping-pole. " 

" Do you know how to use it ? " 

"Am I not a Breton and a peasant? The ferte is 
our friend. She widens our arms and lengthens our 
-egs. " 


" That is to say, she makes the enemy smaller and 
shortens the route. A good machine. " 

" Once on a time, with my ferte, I held my own 
against three salt-tax men who had sabres. " 

" When was that ? " 

" Ten years ago. " 

" Under the king ? " 

" Yes, of course. " 

" Then you fought in the time of the king ? " 

" Yes, to be sure. " 

" Against whom ? " 

" My faith, I do not know ! I was a salt-smuggler. " 

" Very good. " 

" They called that fighting against the excise officers. 
Were they the same thing as the king ? " 

" Yes. No. But it is not necessary that you should 
understand. " 

" I beg Monseigneur's pardon for having asked a 
question of Monseigneur. " 

" Let us continue. Do you know La Tourgue ? " 

" Do I know La Tourgue ? Why, I belong there. " 

" How ? " 

" Certainly, since I come from Parigné. " 

" In fact, La Tourgue is near Parigné. " 

" Know La Tourgue ! The big round castle that be- 
longs to my lord's family? There is a great iron door 
which separates the new part from the old that a cannon 
could not blow open. The famous book about Saint 
Bartholomew, which people go to look at from curiosity, 
is in the new building. There are frogs in the grass. 
When I was little, I used to go and tease them. And 
the underground passage, I know that; perhaps there 
is nobody else left who does. " 

" What underground passage ? I do not know what 
you mean. " 


" It was made for old times, in the days when La 
Tourgue was besieged. The people inside could escape 
by going through the underground passage which leads 
into the wood. " 

" There is a subterranean passage of that description 
in the castle of Jupellière, and the castle of Hunaud- 
aye, and the tower of Cliampéon ; but there is nothing 
of the sort at La Tourgue. " 

" Oh, yes, indeed, monseigneur ! I do not know the 
passages that Monseigneur spoke of ; I only know that 
of La Tourgue, because I belong to the neighbourhood. 
Into the bargain, there is nobody but myself who does 
know it. It was not talked about. It was forbidden, 
because it had been used in the time of Monsieur de 
Eohan's wars. My father knew the secret, and showed 
it to me. I know how to get in and out. If I am m 
the forest, I can go into the tower, and if I am in the 
tower, I can go into the forest, without anybody's see- 
ing me. When the enemy enters, there is no longer any 
one there. That is what the passage of La Tourgue is. 
Oh, I know it ! " 

The old man remained silent for a moment. 

" It is evident that you deceive yourself. If there 
were such a secret, I should know it. " 

" Monseigneur, I am certain. There is a stone that 
turns. * 

" Ah, good ! You peasants believe in stones that turn 
and stones that sing, and stones that go at night to 
drink from the neighbouring brook. A pack of 
nonsense ! " 

" But since I have made the stone turn — " 

" Just as others have heard it sing. Comrade, La 
Tourgue is a fortress, sure and strong, easy to defend; 
but anybody who counted on a subterranean passage fox 
getting out of it would be silly indeed. " 


" But, monseigneur — " 

The old man shrugged his shoulders. 

" We are losing time ; let us talk of what concerns us. - 

The peremptory tone cut short Halmalo's persistence. 

The unknown resumed : — 

" To continue. Listen. From Eougefeu you will go 
to the wood of Montchevrier ; Bénédicité is there, the 
chief of the Twelve. There is another good fellow. He 
says his Bénédicité while he has people shot War and 
sensibility do not go together. From Montchevrier, 
you will go — " 

He broke off. 

" I forgot the money. " 

He took from his pocket a purse and a pocket-book, 
and put them in Halmalo's hand. 

" There are thirty thousand livres in assignats in the 
pocket-book (something like three pounds) ; it is true 
the assignats are false, but the real ones are just as 
worthless. In the purse — attention — there are a hun- 
dred gold louis. I give you all I have. I have no 
need of anything here. Besides, it is better that no 
money should be found on me. I resume. From 
Montchevrier you will go to Antrain, where you will 
see Monsieur de Frotté ; from Antrain to La Jupellière, 
where you will see De Eochecotte ; from La Jupellière 
to Noirieux, where you will find the Abbé Baudoin. 
Can you recollect all this ? " 

" Like my paternoster. " 

" You will see Monsieur Dubois-Guy at Saint-Brice- 
en-Cogles, Monsieur de Turpin at Morannes, which is a 
fortified town, and the Prince de Talmont at Chateau- 
Gonthier. " 

" Shall I be spoken to by a prince ? " 

" Since I speak to you. " 

Halmalo took off his hat. 


" Madame's fleur-de-lis will ensure you a good recep- 
tion everywhere. Do not forget that you are going into 
the country of mountaineers and rustics. Disguise your- 
self. It will be easy to do. These republicans are so 
stupid that you may pass anywhere with a blue coat, a 
three-cornered hat, and a tricoloured cockade. There 
are no longer regiments, there are no longer uniforms ; 
the companies are not numbered ; each man puts on any 
rag he pleases. You will go to Saint-Mhervé ; there 
you will see Gaulier^ called Great Peter. You will go 
to the cantonment of Parné, where the men blacken 
their faces. They put gravel into their guns, and a 
double charge of powder, in order to make more noise. 
It is well done; but tell them, above all, to kill — kill 
— kill! You will go to the camp of the Vache Noire, 
which is on a height; to the middle of the wood of La 
Charnie, then to the camp Avoine, then to the camp 
Yert, then to the camp of the Fourmis. You will go to 
the Grand Bordaçe, which is also called the Haut de 
Pré, and is inhabited by a widow whose daughter mar- 
ried Treton, nicknamed the Englishman. Grand Bordage 
is in the parish of Quelaines. You will visit Epineux - 
le-Chevreuil, Sillé-le-Guillaume, Parannes, and all the 
men in all of the woods. You will make friends, and 
you will send them to the borders of the high and the 
low Maine ; you will see Jean Treton in the parish of 
Vaisges, Sans Regret at Bignon, Chambord at Bonchamps ; 
the brothers Corbin at Maisoncelles, and the Petit-sans- 
Peur at Saint-John-on-Erve. He is the one who is called 
Bourdoiseau. All that done, and the watch-word ■ — Re- 
volt! No quarter! — given everywhere, you will join 
the grand army, the Catholic and royal army, wherever 
it may be. You will see D'Elbée, De Lescure, De la 
Roche jacquelein, all the chiefs who may chance to be 
still living. You will show them my token of command 


They all know what it means. You are only a sailor, 
but Cathelineau is only a carter. This is what you 
must say to them from me : 'It is time to join the two 
wars, the great and the little. The great makes the most 
noise ; the little does the most execution. The Vendée 
is good ; Chouannerie is worse ; and in civil war the 
worst is the best. The goodness of a war is judged by 
the amount of bad it does. ' " 

He paused. 

" Halmalo, I say all this to you. You do not under- 
stand the words, but you comprehend the things them- 
selves. I gained confidence in you from seeing you 
manage the boat. You do not understand geometry, yet 
you perform sea-manœuvres that are marvellous. He 
who can manage a boat can pilot an insurrection. From 
the way in which you have conducted this sea intrigue, 
I am certain you will fulfil all my commands well. I 
resume. You will tell the whole to the chiefs, in your 
own way, of course ; but it will be well told. I prefer 
the war of the forest to the war of the plain ; I have no 
wish to set a hundred thousand peasants in line, and 
expose them to Carnot's artillery and the grape-shot of 
the Blues. In less than a month I mean to have five 
hundred thousand sharpshooters ambushed in the woods. 
The Eepublican army is my game. Poaching is our 
way of waging war, Mine is the strategy of the thick- 
ets. Good ; there is still another expression you will 
not catch ; no matter, you will seize this : No quarter, 
and ambushes everywhere. I depend more on bush fight- 
ing than on regular battles. You will add that the Eng- 
lish are with us. We catch the Eepublic between two 
fires. Europe assists us. Let us make an end of the 
Revolution. Kings will wage a war of kingdoms against 
it ; let us wage a war of parishes. You will say this. 
Have you understood ? " 


u Yes. Put all to fire and sword. w 

■ That is it. " 

" No quarter. " 

" Not to a soul. That is it. " 

" I will go everywhere. " 

" And be careful, for in this country it is easy to 
become a dead man. " 

" Death does not concern me. He who takes his first 
step uses perhaps his last shoes. " 

" You are a brave fellow. " 

" And if I am asked Monseigneur 's name ? " 

" It must not be known yet. You will say you do 
not know it, and that will be the truth. " 

" Where shall I see Monseigneur again ? " 

" "Where I shall be. " 

" How shall I know ? " 

" Because all the world will know. I shall be talked 
of before eight days go by. I shall make examples ; I 
shall avenge religion and the king, and you will know 
well that it is I of whom they speak. " 

" I understand. " 

" Forget nothing. " 

" Be tranquil. " 

" Now go. May God guide you ! Go. " 

" I will do all that you have bidden me. I will go. 
I will speak. I will obey. I will command. " 

" Good ! " 

• And if I succeed ? " 

a I will make you a knight of Saint Louis. " 

" Like my brother. And if I fail, you will have me 
shot ? " 

" Like your brother. " 

" Done, monseigneur. " 

The old man bent his head and seemed to fall into a 
sombre reverie. When he raised his eyes he was alone. 


Halmalo was only a black spot disappearing on the 

The sun had just set. 

The sea-mews and the hooded gulls flew homeward 
from the darkening ocean. 

That sort of inquietude which precedes the night 
made itself felt in space. The green frogs croaked ; the 
kingfishers flew whistling out of the pools ; the gulls 
and the rooks kept up their evening tumult ; the cry of 
the shore birds could be heard, but not a human sound. 
The solitude was complete. Not a sail in the bay, not 
a peasant in the fields. As far as the eye could reach 
stretched a deserted plain. The great sand-thistles 
shivered. The white sky of twilight cast a vast livid 
pallor over the shore. In the distance, the pools scat- 
tered over the plain looked like great sheets of pewter 
spread flat upon the ground. The wind hurried in from 
the sea with a moan. 





THE old man waited till Halmalo disappeared, then 
he drew his fisherman's cloak closely about him 
and set out on his course. He walked with slow steps, 
thinking deeply. He took the direction of Huisnes, 
while Halmalo went toward Beauvoir. 

Behind him, an enormous black triangle, with a cathe- 
dral for tiara and a fortress for breastplate, with its two 
great towers to the east, one round, the other square, 
helping to support the weight of the church and village, 
rose Mount Saint Michael, which is to the ocean what 
the Pyramid of Cheops is to the desert. 

The quicksands of Mount Saint Michael's Bay in- 
sensibly displace their dunes. Between Huisnes and 
Ardevon there was at that time a very high one, which 
is now completely effaced. This dune, levelled by an 
equinoctial storm, had the peculiarity of being very 
ancient ; on its summit stood a commemorative column, 
erected in the twelfth century, in memory of the council 
held at Avranches against the assassins of Saint Thomas 
of Canterbury, From the top of this dune the whole 
district could be seen, and one could fix the points of the 


The old man ascended it. 

When he reached the top, he sat down on one of the 
projections of the stones, with his back against the pil- 
lar, and began to study the kind of geographical chart 
spread beneath his feet. He seemed to be seeking a 
route in a district which had once been familiar. In the 
whole of this vast landscape, made indistinct by the 
twilight, there was nothing clearly defined but the hori- 
zon stretching black against the sky. 

He could perceive the roofs of eleven towns and vil- 
lages ; could distinguish for several leagues' distance all 
the bell-towers of the coast, which were built very high, 
to serve in case of need as landmarks to boats at sea. 

At the end of a few minutes the old man appeared to 
have found what he sought in this dim clearness. His 
eyes rested on an enclosure of trees, walls, and roofs, 
partially visible midway between the plain and the 
wood ; it was a farm. He nodded his head in the satis- 
fied way a man does who says to himself, " There it is, " 
and began to trace with his finger a route across the 
fields and hedges. From time to time he examined a 
shapeless, indistinct object stirring on the principal roof 
of the farm, and seemed to ask himself, " What can it 
be ? " It was colourless and confused, owing to the 
gloom ; it floated — therefore it was not a weather-cock ; 
and there was no reason why it should be a flag. 

He was weary ; he remained in his resting-place, and 
yielded passively to the vague forgetfulness which the 
first moments of repose bring over a tired man. 

There is an hour of the day which may be called noise- 
less : it is the serene hour of early evening. It was 
about him now. He enjoyed it; he looked, he listened 
— to what? The tranquillity. Even savage natures 
have their moments of melancholy. Suddenly this tran- 
quillity was not troubled, but accentuated bv the voices 


of persons passing below, — the voices of women and 
children. It was like a chime of joy-bells unexpectedly 
ringing amid the shadows. The underbrush hid the 
group from whence the voices came, but it was moving 
slowly along the foot of the dune toward the plain and 
the forest. The clear, fresh tones reached distinctly 
the pensive old man ; they were so near that he could 
catch every word. 

A woman's voice said, — 

" We must hurry ourselves, Flécharde. Is this the 
way ? " 

" No, yonder. " 

The dialogue went on between the two voices, — one 
high-pitched, the other low and timid. 

" What is the name of the farm we are stopping at ? " 

" L'Herbe-en-Pail. " 

" Will it take us much longer to get there ? " 

" A good quarter of an hour. " 

" We must hurry on to get our soup. " 

* Yes ; we are late. " 

" We shall have to run. But those brats of yours are 
tired. We are only two women; we can't carry three 
brats. And you — you are already carrying one, my 
Flécharde ; a regular lump of lead. You have weaned 
the little gormandizer, but you carry her all the same. 
A bad habit. Do me the favour to make her walk. Oh, 
very well — so much the worse ! The soup will be 
cold. " 

" Oh, what good shoes these are that you gave me ! 
I should think they had been made for me. " 

" It is better than going barefooted, eh ?" 

K Hurry up, Bene -Jean ! " 

ts He is the very one that hindered us. He must needs 
chatter with all the little peasant girls he met. Oh, 
he shows the man already f " 


" Yes, indeed ; why, he is going on five years old» " 
" I say, Eené-Jean, what made you talk to that little 

girl in the village ? " 

A child's voice, that of a boy, replied, — > 

" Because she was an acquaintance of mine. " 

" What, you know her ? " asked the woman. 

" Yes, ever since this morning ; she played some 

games with me. " 

" Oh, what a man you are ! " cried the woman. " We 

have only been three days in the neighbourhood; that 

creature there is no bigger than your fist, and he has 

found a sweetheart already ! " 

The voices grew fainter and fainter ; then every sound 

died away. 

The Marquis de Lantenac discovering that a Price had been 
set upon his Head. 



THE old man sat motionless. He was not thinking 1 
scarcely dreaming. About him was serenity, 
rest, safety, solitude. It was still broad daylight on the 
dune, but almost dark in the plain, and quite night in 
the forest. The moon was floating up the east , a few 
stars dotted the pale blue of the zenith. This man, 
though full of preoccupation and stern cares, lost him- 
self in the ineffable sweetness of the infinite. He felt 
within him the obscure dawn of hope, if the word hope 
may be applied to the workings of civil warfare. For 
the instant it seemed to him that in escaping from that 
inexorable sea and touching land once more, all danger 
had vanished. No one knew his name ; he was alone, 
escaped from the enemy, having left no trace behind 
him, for the sea leaves no track ; hidden, ignored ; not 
even suspected. He felt an indescribable calm ; a little 
more and he would have fallen asleep. 

What made the strange charm of this tranquil home 
to that man, a prey within and without to such tumultSj 
was the profound silence alike in earth and sky. 

He heard nothing but the wind from the sea ; but the 
wind is a continual bass, which almost ceases to be a 
noise, so accustomed does the ear become to its tone. 

Suddenly he started to his feet. 

His attention had been quickly awakened ; he looked 
about the horizon. Then his glance fixed eagerly upon a 


particular point. What he looked at was the belfry of 
Cormeray, which rose before him at the extremity of 
the plain. Something very extraordinary was indeed 
going on within it. 

The belfry was clearly defined against the sky; he 
could see the tower surmounted by the spire, and be- 
tween the two the cage for the bell, square, without 
pent-house, open at the four sides after the fashion of 
Breton belfries. 

Now this cage appeared alternately to open and shut 
at regular intervals ; its lofty opening showed entirely 
white, then black ; the sky could be seen for an instant 
through it, then it disappeared ; a gleam of light would 
come, then an eclipse, and the opening and shutting 
succeeded each other from moment to moment with the 
regularity of a hammer striking its anvil. 

This belfry of Cormeray was in front of the old man, 
about two leagues from the place where he stood. He 
looked to his right at the belfry of Baguer-Pican, which 
rose equally straight and distinct against the horizon: 
its cage was opening and shutting, like that of Cormeray. 

He looked to his left, at the belfry of Tanis : the cage 
of the belfry of Tanis opened and shut, like that of 

He examined all the belfries upon the horizon, one 
after another : to his left those of Courtils, of Précey, of 
Crollon, and the Croix- Avranchin ; to his right the bel- 
fries of Kaz-sur-Couesnon, of Mordrey, and of the Pas ; 
in front of him, the belfry of Pontorson. The cages of 
all these belfries were alternately white and black. 

What did this mean ? 

It meant that all the bells were swinging. In order 
to appear and disappear in this way they must be vio- 
lently rung. 

What was it for ? The tocsin, without doubt. 


The tocsin was sounding, sounding madly, on every 
side, from all the belfries, in all the parishes, in all the 
villages ; and yet he could hear nothing. 

This was owing to the distance and the wind from 
the sea, which, sweeping in the opposite direction, car- 
ried every sound of the shore out beyond the horizon. 

All these mad bells calling on every side, and at the 
same time this silence ; nothing could be more sinister. 

The old man looked and listened. He did not hear 
the tocsin ; he saw it. It was a strange sensation, that 
of seeing the tocsin. 

Against whom was this rage of the bells directed ? 

Against whom did this tocsin sound ? 



ASSUREDLY some one was snared. 

A shiver ran through this man of steel. 

It could not be he ? His arrival could not have been 
discovered. It was impossible that the acting represen- 
tative should have received information ; he had scarcely 
landed. The corvette had evidently foundered, and not 
a man had escaped. And even on the corvette, Boisber- 
thelot and La Vieuville alone knew his name. 

The belfries kept up their savage sport. He mechan- 
ically watched and counted them; and his meditations, 
pushed from one conjecture to another, had those fluctu- 
ations caused by a sudden change from complete se- 
curity to a terrible consciousness of peril. Still, after 
all, this tocsin might be accounted for in many ways ; 
and he ended by reassuring himself with the repetition 
of, " In short, no one knows of my arrival, and no one 
knows my name. " 

During the last few seconds there had been a slight 
noise above and behind him. This noise was like the 
fluttering of leaves. He paid no attention to it at first, 
but as the sound continued — one might have said in- 
*sisted on making itself heard — he turned round at 
length. It was in fact a leaf, but a leaf of paper. The 
wind was trying to tear off a large placard pasted on the 
stone above his head. This placard had been very lately 
fastened there, for it was still moist, and offered a hold 


to the wind, which had begun to play with and was 
detaching it. 

The old man had ascended the dune on the opposite 
side, and had not seen this placard as he came up. 

He mounted the coping where he had been seated, and 
laid his hand -on the corner of the paper which the wind 
moved. The sky was clear, for the June twilights are 
long ; the bottom of the dune was shadowy, but the top 
in light. A portion of the placard was printed in large 
letters, and there was still light enough for him to make 
it out. He read this : — 


We, Prieur, of the Marne, acting representative of the 
people with the army of the coast of Cherbourg, give notice : 
The ci-devant Marquis de Lantenac, Viscount de Fontenay, 
so-called Breton prince, secretly landed on the coast of Gran- 
ville, is declared an outlaw. — A price is set on his bead. — ■ 
Any person bringing him, alive or dead, will receive the sum 
of sixty thousand livres. — This amount will not be paid 
in assignats, but in gold. — A battalion of the Cherbourg 
coast-guards will be immediately dispatched for the appre- 
hension of the so-called Marquis de Lantenac. 

The parishes are ordered to lend every assistance. 

Given at the Town-hall of Granville, this 2d of Jane, 

(Signed) Prieur, de la Marne. 

Under this name was another signature, in much 
smaller characters, and which the failing light prevented 
the old man's deciphering. 

The old man pulled his hat over his eyes, closed his 
sea-jacket up to his chin and rapidly descended the 

It was unsafe to remain longer on this summit. 

He had perhaps already stayed too long ; the top of the 


dune was the only point in the landscape which still 
remained visible. 

When he reached the obscurity of the bottom, he 
slackened his pace. 

He took the route which he had traced for himself 
toward the farm, evidently having reason to believe that 
he should be safe in that direction. 

The plain was deserted. There were no passers-by at 
that hour. 

He stopped behind a thicket of underbrush, undid his 
cloak, turned his vest the hairy side out, refastened his 
rag of a mantle about his neck by its cord, and resumed 
his way. 

The moon was shining. 

He reached a point where two roads branched off; an 
old stone cross stood there. Upon the pedestal of the 
cross he could distinguish a white square, which was 
most probably a notice like that he had just read. He 
went toward it. 

" Where are you going ? " said a voice. 

He turned round. 

A man was standing in the hedge-row, tall like him- 
self, old like himself, with white hair like his own, and 
garments even more dilapidated, — almost his double. 
This man leaned on a long stick. 

He repeated, — 

" I ask you where you are going. " 

" In the first place, where am I ? " returned he, with 
an almost haughty composure. 

The man replied, — 

" You are in the seigneury of Tanis. I am its beggar ; 
you are its lord. " 


" Yes, you, my lord Marquis de Lantenac. w 



THE Marquis de Lantenac — ■ we shall henceforth call 
him by his name — answered quietly : — 

" So be it. Give me up. " 

The man continued : — 

" We are both at home here : you in the castle, I in 
the bushes. " 

" Let us finish. Do your work. Betray me, " said the 

The man went on : — - 

" You were going to the farm of Herbe-en-Pail, were 
you not ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Do not go. " 

" Why ? " 

" Because the Blues are thera * 

" Since how long ? " 

" These three days. " 

" Did the people of the farm and the hamlet resist ? " 

" No ; they opened all the doors. " 

" Ah ! " said the marquis. 

The man pointed with his finger toward the roof ci 
the farm-house, which could be perceived above the 
trees at a short distance. 

" You can see the roof, Marquis ? " 

u Yes. * 


" Do you see what there is above it ? * 

" Something floating ? " 

" Yes. ■ 

" It is a flag. " 

" The tricolour, " said the man. 

This was the object which had attracted the marquis's 
attention as he stood on the top of the dune. 

" Is not the tocsin sounding ?" asked the marquis. 

" Yes. " 

" On what account ? " 

" Evidently on yours. " 

" But I cannot hear it. " 

" The wind carries the sound the other way. * 

The man added, — 

" Did you see your placard ? " 

" Yes. " 

" They are hunting you ; " and casting a glance toward 
the farm, he added, " There is a demi-battalion there. ' 

■ Of republicans ? " 

" Parisians. " 

* Very well, " said the marquis : " march on. " 

And he took a step in the direction of the farm. 

The man seized his arm. 

" Do not go there. " 

" Where do you wish me to go ? " 

tt Home with me. " 

The marquis looked steadily at the mendicant. 

" Listen, my lord marquis. My house is not fine, 
but it is safe. A cabin lower than a cave. For flooring 
a bed of sea-weed, for ceiling a roof of branches and 
grass. Come. At the farm you will be shot; in my 
house you may go to sleep. You must be tired ; and 
to-morrow morning the Blues will march on, and you 
can go where you please. " 

The marquis studied this man. 


" Which side are you on?" he asked. " Are you re- 
publican ? Are you royalist ? " 
u I am a beggar. " 
" Neither royalist nor republican ? n 

* I believe not. " 

" Are you for or against the king ? " 
u I have no time for that sort of thing. " 
k " What do you think of what is passing ? " 

* I have nothing to live on. " 

" Still you come to my assistance. " 

" Because I saw you were outlawed. What is the 
law ? So one can be beyond its pale. I do not compre- 
hend. Am I inside the law ? Am I outside the law ? 1 
don't in the least know. To die of hunger, is that 
being within the law?" 

" How long have you been dying of hunger ? " 

" All my life. " 

" And you save me ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Why ? * 

" Because I said to myself, ' There is one poorer than L 
I have the right to breathe ; he has not. ' " 

" That is true. And you save me ? " 

" Of course ; we are brothers, monseigneur. I ask 
for bread : you ask for life. We are a pair of beggars. " 

" But do you know there is a price set on my head ? * 

" Yes. " 

" How did you know ? " 

" I read the placard. " 

" You know how to read ? " 

u Yes ; and to write, too. Why should I be a brute ? " 

iS Then, since you can read, and since you have seen 
the notice, you know that a man would earn sixt^ 
thousand livres by giving me up ? " 

" I know it. " 


" Not in assignats. " 

" Yes, I know ; in gold. " 

" Sixty thousand livres f Do you know It is a 
fortune ? " 

" Yes. " 

" And that anybody apprehending me would make his 
fortune ? " 

" Very well ; what next ? " 

" His fortune ! " 

" That is exactly what I thought. When I saw you, I 
said, 'Just to think that anybody by giving up that 
man yonder would gain sixty thousand livres, and make 
his fortune ! ' Let us hasten to hide him. " 

The marquis followed the beggar. 

They entered a thicket ; the mendicant's den was 
there. It was a sort of chamber which a great old oak 
had allowed the man to take possession of within its 
heart ; it was dug down among its roots, and covered by 
its branches. It was dark, low, hidden, invisible. 
There was room for two persons. 

" I foresaw that I might have a guest, " said the 

This species of underground lodging, less rare in Brit- 
tany than people fancy, is called in the peasant dialect 
a camichot. The name is also applied to hiding-places 
contrived in thick walls. 

It was furnished with a few jugs, a pallet of straw 
or dried wrack, with a thick covering of kersey ; some 
tallow-dips, a flint and steel, and a bundle of furze 
twigs for tinder. 

They stooped low, — - crept rather, — penetrated into 
the chamber, which the great roots of the tree divided 
into fantastic compartments, and seated themselves on 
the heap of dry sea-weed which served as a bed. The 
space between two of the roots, which made the doorway, 


allowed a little light to enter. Night had come on; 
but the eye adapts itself to the darkness, and one always 
finds at last a little day among the shadows. A reflec- 
tion from the moon's rays dimly silvered the entrance. 
In a corner was a jug of water, a loaf of buckwheat 
bread, and some chestnuts. 

" Let us sup, " said the beggar. 

They divided the chestnuts ; the marquis contributed 
his morsel of biscuit. They bit into the same black loaf, 
and drank out of the jug, one after the other. 

They conversed. 
The marquis began to question this man. 

" So, no matter whether anything or nothing happens, 
it is all the same to you ?" 

" Pretty much. You are the lords, you others. Those 
are ybur affairs. " 

" But after all, present events — " 

" Pass away up out of my reach. " 

The beggar added presently : — 

" Then there are things that go on still higher up : 
the sun that rises, the moon that increases or dimin- 
ishes ; those are the matters I occupy myself about. " 

He took a sip from the jug, and said, — 

" The good fresh water ! " 

Then he asked, — 

" How do you find the water, monseigneur ? * 

" What is your name ? " inquired the marquis. 

" My name is Tellmarch, but I am called the 
Caimand. " 

" I understand. Caimand is a word of the district. " 

" Which means beggar. I am also nicknamed Le 
Vieux. I have been called ' the old man' these forty 
years. " 

" Forty years ! But you were a young man then. " 

" I never was young. You remain so always, on the 


contrary, my lord marquis. You have the legs of a 
boy of twenty ; you can climb the great dune. As for 
me, I begin to find it difficult to walk ; at the end of a 
quarter of a league I am tired. Nevertheless, our age is 
the same. But the rich, they have an advantage over 
us, — they eat every day. Eating is a preservative. " 

After a silence the mendicant resumed : — 

" Poverty, riches — that makes a terrible business. 
That is what brings on the catastrophes, — at least, I 
have that idea. The poor want to be rich ; the rich are 
not willing to be poor. I think that is about what it 
is at the bottom. I do not mix myself up with matters. 
The events are the events. I am neither for the cred- 
itor nor for the debtor. I know there is a debt, and 
that it is being paid. That is all. I would rather they 
had not .killed the king ; but it would be difficult for me 
to say why. After that, somebody will answer, ' But 
remember how they used to hang poor fellows on trees 
for nothing at all. ' See ; just for a miserable gunshot 
fired at one of the king's roebucks, I myself saw a man 
hung who had a wife and seven children. There is 
much to say on both sides. " 

Again he was silent for a while. Then : — 

" I am a little of a bone-setter, a little of a doctor , I 
know the herbs, I study plants. The peasants see me 
absent, preoccupied, and that makes me pass for a sor- 
cerer. Because I dream, they think I must be wise. " 

" You belong to the neighbourhood ? " asked the mar- 

" I never was out of it. " 

" You know me?" 

" Of course. The last time I saw you was when you 
passed through here two years ago. You went from 
here to England. A little while since I saw a man on 
the top of the dune, — a very tall man. Tall men are 


rare ; Brittany is a country of small men. I looked 
close ; I had read the notice ; I said to myself, 'Ah ha i ' 
And when you came down there was moonlight, and I 
recognized you. " 

" And yet I do not know you. " 

" You have seen me, but you never looked at me. " 

And Tellmarch the Caimand added, — ■ 

" I looked at you, though. The giver and the beggai 
do not look with the same eyes. " 

" Had I encountered you formerly ? " 

" Often ; I am your beggar. I was the mendicant at 
the foot of the road from your castle. You have given 
me alms. But he who gives does not notice ; he who 
receives examines and observes. When you say mendi- 
cant, you say spy. But as for me, though I am often 
sad, I try not to be a malicious spy. I used to hold out 
my hand ; you only saw the hand, and you threw into it 
the charity I needed in the morning in order that I 
might not die in the evening. I have often been twenty- 
four hours without eating. - Sometimes a penny is life. 
I owe you my life ; I pay the debt. " 

" That is true ; you save me. " 

" Yes, I save you, monseigneur. " 

And Tellmarch' s voice grew solemn as he added, — 

" On one condition. " 

" And that ? " 

" That you are not come here to do harm. " 

" I come here to do good, " said the marquis. 

" Let us sleep, " said the beggar. 

They lay down side by side on the sea-weed bed The 
mendicant fell asleep immediately. The marquis, 
although very tired, remained thinking deeply for a 
few moments ; he gazed fixedly at the beggar in the 
shadow, and then lay back. To lie on that bed was to 
lie on the ground^ — which suggested to him to put his 


ear to the earth and listen. He could hear a strange 
buzzing underground. We know that sound stretches 
down into the depths : he could hear the noise of the 

The tocsin was still sounding 

The marquis fell asleep» 



T was daylight when he awoke. The mendicant was 
standing up, — not in the den, for he could not hold 
himself erect there, but without, on the sill. He was 
leaning on his stick. The sun shone upon his face. 

"Monseigneur," said Tellmarch, "four o'clock has 
just sounded from the belfry of Tanis. I could count 
the strokes, therefore the wind has changed : it is the land 
breeze. I can hear no other sound, so the tocsin has 
ceased. Everything is tranquil about the farm and 
hamlet ox' Herbe-en-Pail. The Blues are asleep or gone. 
The worst of the danger is over ; it will be wise for us 
to separate. It is my hour for setting out. " 

He indicated a point in the horizon. 

" I am going that way. " 

He pointed in the opposite direction. 

" Go you this way. " 

The beggar made the marquis a gesture of salute. He 
pointed to the remains of the supper. 

" Take the chestnuts with you, if you are hungry. " 

A moment after, he disappeared among the trees. 

The marquis rose and departed in the direction which 
Tellmarch had indicated. 

It was that charming hour called in the old Norman 
peasant dialect " the song-sparrow of the day. " The 
finches and the hedge-sparrows flew chirping about. The 
marquis followed the path by which they had come on 


the previous night. He passed out of the thicket and 
found himself at the fork of the road, marked by the 
stone cross. The placard was still there, looking white, 
fairly gay, in the rising sun. He remembered that there 
was something at the bottom of the placard which he 
had not been able to read the evening before, on account 
of the twilight and the size of the letters. He went 
up to the pedestal of the cross. Under the signature 
" Prieur, de la Marne, " there were yet two other 
lines in small characters : — 

The identity of the ci-devant Marquis de Lantenac es- 
tablished, he will be immediately shot. 

(Signed) Gauvain. 

Chief of battalion commanding 

, the exploring column. 

a Gauvain ! " said the marquis. He stood still, think- 
ing deeply, his eyes fixed on the notice. 

" Gauvain ! " he repeated. 

He resumed his march, turned about, looked again 
at the cross, walked back, and once more read the 

Then he went slowly away. Had any person been 
near, he might have been heard to murmur, in a half- 
voice, " Gauvain ! " 

From the sunken paths into which he retreated he 
could only see the roofs of the farm, which lay to the 
left. He passed along the side of a steep eminence 
covered with furze, of the species called long-thorn, in 
blossom. The summit of this height was one of those 
points of land named in Brittany a hure. 

At the foot of the eminence the gaze lost itself among 
the trees. The foliage seemed bathed in light. All 
Nature was filled with the deep joy of the morning. 

Suddenly this landscape became terrible. It was like 


the bursting forth of an ambuscade. An appalling, in- 
describable trumpeting, made by savage cries and gun- 
shots, struck upon these fields and these woods filled 
with sunlight, and there could be seen rising from the 
side toward the farm a great smoke, cut by clear flames, 
as if the hamlet and the farm buildings were consuming 
like a truss of burning straw. It was sudden and fear- 
ful, — the abrupt change from tranquillity to fury; an 
explosion of hell in the midst of dawn ; a horror without 
transition. There was fighting in the direction of Herbe- 
en-Pail. The marquis stood still. 

There is no man in a similar case who would not feel 
curiosity stronger than a sense of the peril. One must 
know what is happening, if one perish in the attempt. 
He mounted the eminence along the bottom of which 
passed the sunken path by which he had come. From 
there he could see, but he could also be seen. He re- 
mained on the top for some instants. He looked about. 

There was, in truth, a fusilade and a conflagration. ■ 
He could hear the cries, he could see the flames. The 
farm appeared the centre of some terrible catastrophe. 
What could it be ? Was the farm of Herbe-en-Pail at- 
tacked ? But by whom ? Was it a battle ? Was it not 
rather a military execution? Very often the Blues pun- 
ished refractory farms and villages by setting them on fire. 
They were ordered to do so by a revolutionary decree ; 
they burned, for example, every farm-house and hamlet 
where the tree-cutting prescribed by law had been neg- 
lected, or no roads opened among the thickets for the pas- 
sage of the republican cavalry. Only very lately, the 
parish of Bourgon, near Ernée, had been thus destroyed. 
Was Herbe-en-Pail receiving similar treatment ? It was 
evident that none of the strategic routes called for by the 
decree had been made among the copses and enclosures. 
Was this the punishment for such neglect? Had an 


order been received by the advance-guard occupying the 
farm? Did not this troop make part of one of those 
exploring divisions called the " infernal columns " ? 

A bristling and savage thicket surrounded on all sides 
the eminence upon which the marquis had posted him- 
self for an outlook, This thicket, which was called the 
grove of Herbe-en-Pail, but which had the proportions of 
a wood, stretched to the farm, and concealed, like all 
Breton copses, a network of ravines, by-paths, and 
deep cuttings, labyrinths where the republican armies 
lost themselves. 

The execution, if it were an execution, must have been 
a ferocious one, for it was short. It had been, like all 
brutal deeds, quickly accomplished. The atrocity of 
civil wars admits of these savage vagaries. While the 
marquis, multiplying conjectures, hesitating to de- 
scend, hesitating to remain, listened and watched, this 
crash of extermination ceased, or, more correctly speak- 
ing, vanished. The marquis took note of something in 
the thicket that was like the scattering of a wild and 
joyous troop. A frightful rushing about made itself 
heard beneath the trees. From the farm the band had 
thrown themselves into the wood. Drums beat. Ko 
more gunshots were fired. Now it resembled a battue , 
they seemed to search, follow, track. They were evi- 
dently hunting some person. The noise was scattered 
and deep ; it was a confusion of words of wrath and 
triumph ; of indistinct cries and clamour. Suddenly, as 
an outline becomes visible in a cloud of smoke, some- 
thing is articulated clearly and distinctly amid this 
tamult : it was a name, — a name repeated by a thousand 
voices, — and the marquis plainly heard this cry : — 

" Lantenac ! Lantenac ! The Marquis de Lantenac ! " 

It was he whom they were looking for. 



SUDDENLY all about him, from all sides at the 
same time, the copse filled with muskets, bayonets, 
and sabres, a tricoloured flag rose in the half-light, the 
cry of " Lantenac ! " burst forth in his very ear, and at 
his feet, behind the brambles and branches, savage faces 

The marquis was alone, standing on a height, visible 
from every part of the wood. He could scarcely see 
those who shrieked his name ; but he was seen by all. 
If a thousand muskets were in the wood, there was he 
like a target. He could distinguish nothing among the 
brush-wood but burning eyeballs fastened upon him. 

He took off his hat, turned back the brim, tore a long, 
dry thorn from a furze-bush, drew from his pocket a 
white cockade, fastened the upturned brim and the 
cockade to the. hat with the thorn, and putting back on 
his head the hat, whose lifted edge showed the white 
cockade, and left his face in full view, he cried in 
a loud voice that rang like a trumpet through the 
forest : — 

" I am the man you seek. I am the Marquis de Lan- 
tenac, Viscount de Fontenay, Breton prince, lieutenant- 
general of the armies of the king. Now make an end ! 
Aim ! Fire ! " 

And tearing open with both hands his goat-skin vest ; 
he bared his naked breast. 


He looked down, expecting to meet levelled guns, and 
saw himself surrounded by kneeling men. 

Then a great shout arose : — 

" Long live Lantenac ! Long live Monseigneur ! Long 
live the general! " 

At the same time hats were flung into the air, sabres 
whirled joyously, and through all the thicket could be 
seen rising sticks on whose points waved caps of brown 
woollen. He was surrounded by a Vendean band. 

This troop had knelt at sight of him. 

Old legends tell of strange beings that were found in 
the ancient Thuringian forests, — a race of giants, more 
and less than men, who were regarded by the Komans as 
horrible monsters, by the Germans as divine incarna- 
tions, and who, according to the encounter, ran the risk 
of being exterminated or adored. 

The marquis felt something of the sentiment which 
must have shaken one of those creatures when, expect- 
ing to be treated like a monster, he suddenly found 
himself worshipped as a god. 

All those eyes, full of terrible lightnings, were fas- 
tened on him with a sort of savage love. 

This crowd was armed with muskets, sabres, scythes, 
poles, sticks ; they wore great beavers or brown caps, 
with white cockades, a profusion of rosaries and amu- 
lets, wide breeches open at the knee, jackets of skins, 
leather gaiters, the calves of their legs bare, their hair 
long : some with a ferocious look, all with an open one. 

A man, young and of noble mien, passed through the 
kneeling throng, and hurried toward the marquis. 
Like the peasants, he wore a turned-up beaver and a 
white cockade, and was wrapped in a fur jacket; but 
his hands were white and his linen fine, and he wore 
over his vest a white silk scarf, from which hung a 
gold-hilted sword. 


When he reached the hure he threw aside his hat, un 
tied his scarf, bent one knee to the ground, and pre 
sented the sword and scarf to the marquis, saying : 

" We were indeed seeking you, and we have found 
you. Accept the sword of command. These men are 
yours now. I was their leader ; I mount in grade, for 
I become your soldier. Accept our homage, my lord. 
General, give me your orders. " 

Then he made a sign, and some men who carried a 
tricoloured flag moved out of the wood. They marched 
up to where the marquis stood, and laid the banner at 
his feet. It was the flag which he had just caught sight 
of through the trees. 

" General, " said the young man who had presented to 
him the sword and scarf, " this is the flag we just took 
from the Blues, who held the farm of Herbe-en-Pail. 
Monseigneur, I am named Gavard. I belong to the 
Marquis de la Eouarie. " 

* It is well, " said the marquis. And, calm and grave, 
he put on the scarf. 

Then he drew his sword, and waving it above his 
head, he cried, — 

" Up ! Long live the king ! " 

All rose. Through the depths of the wood swelled a 
wild triumphant clamour : " Long live the king ! Long 
live our marquis ! Long live Lantenac ! " 

The marquis turned toward Gavard : — 

" How many are you ? " 

" Seven thousand. " 

And as they descended the eminence, while the peas- 
ants cleared away the furze-bushes to make a path for 
the Marquis de Lantenac, Gavard continued : — 

" Monseigneur, nothing more simple. All can be 
explained in a word. It only needed a spark. The 
reward offered by the Republic, in revealing your 


presence, roused the whole district for the king. Be- 
sides ihat, we had been secretly warned by the mayor 
of Granville, who is one of our men, the same who 
saved the Abbé Ollivier. Last night they sounded the 
tocsin. " 

" For whom ? " 

" For you. " 

" Ah ! " said the marquis. . 

" And here we are, " pursued Gavard. 

" And you are seven thousand ? " 

" To-day. We shall be fifteen thousand to-morrow. 
It is the Breton contingent. When Monsieur Henri 
de la Kochejacquelein set out to join the Catholic army, 
the tocsin was sounded, and in one night six parishes — ■ 
Isernay, Corqueux, the Echaubroignes, the Aubiers, 
Saint- Aubin, and Nueil — brought him ten thousand 
men. They had no munitions ; they found in the house 
of a quarry-master sixty pounds of blasting-powder, 
and M. de la Eochejacquelein set off with that. We 
were certain you must be in some part of this forest, 
and we were seeking you. " 

" And you attacked the Blues at the farm of Herbe-en- 
Pail ? " 

" The wind prevented their hearing the tocsin. They 
suspected nothing ; the people of the hamlet, who are 
a set of clowns, received them well. This morning we 
surrounded the farm ; the Blues were asleep, and we did 
the thing out of hand. I have a horse. Will you deign 
to accept it, General ? " 


A peasant led up a white horse with military ca- 
parisons. The marquis mounted without the assistance 
Gavard offered him. 

" Hurrah ! " cried the peasants. The cries of the 
English were greatly in use along the Breton coast, in 


constant communication as it was with the Channel 

Gava^l made a military salute, and asked, — 

" Where will you make your head-quarters, mon- 
seigneur ? " 

" At first in the Forest of Fougères. " 

" It is one of your seven forests, rny lord marquis. " 

" We must have a priest. " 
■ " We have one. " 


" The curate of the Chapelle-Erbrée. " 

" I know him. He has made the voyage to Jersey. " 

A priest stepped out of the ranks, and said, — 

" Three times. " 

The marquis turned his head. 

" Good-morning, Monsieur le Curé. You have work 
before you. " 

" So much the better, my lord marquis. * 

" You will have to hear confessions, — those who wish ; 
nobody will be forced. " 

" My lord marquis, " said the priest, " at Guéménée, 
Gaston forces the republicans to confess. " 

" He is a hairdresser, " said the marquis ; " death 
ought to be free. " 

Gavard, who had gone to give some orders, returned. 

" General, I wait your commands. " 

" First, the rendezvous in the Forest of Fougères 
Let the men disperse, and make their way there. " 

" The order is given. " 

" Did you not tell me that the people of Herbe-en-Pai] 
had received the Blues well ? " 

" Yes, General. " 

" You have burned the house ? " 

« Yes. " 

" Have you burned the hamlet? " 



" Burn it. " 

" The Blues tried to defend themselves, but they were 
a hundred and fifty, and we were seven thousand. " 

" Who were they ? " 

" Santerre's men. " 

" The one who ordered the drums to beat while the 
king's head was being cut off? Then it is a regiment of 
Paris ? " 

" A half-regiment. " 

" Its name ? " 

" General, it had on its flag, 5 Battalion of the Bonnet 
Rouge. ' " 

" Wild beasts. " 

" W r hat is to be done with the wounded ? " 

a Put an end to them. " 

" What shall we do with the prisoners ? w 

" Shoot them. " 

" There are about eighty. " 

" Shoot the whole. " 

" There are two women. " 

" Them also. " 

" There are three children. " 

" Carry them off. We will see what shall be done 
with them. " 

And the marquis rode on. 



WHILE all this was passing near Tanis, the mendi- 
cant had gone toward Crollon. He plunged into 
the ravines, among the vast silent bowers of shade, 
inattentive to everything and attentive to nothing, as 
he had himself said ; di earner rather than thinker, for the 
thoughtful man has an aim, and the dreamer has none ; 
wandering, rambling, pausing, munching here and there 
a bunch of wild sorrel ; drinking at the springs, occa- 
sionally raising his head to listen to the distant tumult, 
again falling back into the bewildering fascination of 
Nature ; warming his rags in the sun ; hearing sometimes 
the noise of men, but listening to the song of the birds. 

He was old, and moved slowly. He could not walk 
far; as he had said to the Marquis de Lantenac, a quar- 
ter of a league fatigued him. He made a short circuit to 
the Croix-Avranchin, and evening had come before he 

A little beyond Macey, the path he was following led 
to a sort of culminating point, bare of trees, from 
whence one could see very far, taking in the whole 
stretch of the western horizon to the sea. 

A column of smoke attracted his attention. 

Nothing calmer than smoke, but nothing more start- 
ling. There are peaceful smokes, and there are evil 
ones. The thickness and colour of a line of smoke 
marks the whole difference between war and peace, be- 


tween fraternity and hatred, between hospitality and 
the tomb, between life and death. A smoke mounting 
among the trees may be a symbol of all that is most 
charming in the world, — a heart at home ; or a sign 
of that which is most awful, — a conflagration. The 
whole happiness of man, or his most complete misery, is 
sometimes expressed in this thin vapour, which the 
wind scatters at will. 

The smoke which Tellmarch saw was disquieting. 

It was black, dashed now and then with sudden 
gleams of red, as if the brasier from which it flowed 
burned irregularly, and had begun to die out; and it 
rose above Herbe-en-Pail. 

Tellmarch quickened his steps, and walked toward 
this smoke. 

He was very tired, but he must know what this 

He reached the summit of a hill, against whose side 
the hamlet' and the farm were nestled. 

There was no longer either farm or hamlet. 

A heap of ruins was burning still ; it was Herbe-en- 

There is something which it is more painful to see burn 
than a palace, — it is a cottage. A cottage on fire is a 
lamentable sight. It is a devastation swooping down 
on poverty, the vulture pouncing upon the worms of the 
ground; there is in it a contradiction which chills the 

If we believe the Biblical legend, the sight of a con- 
flagration changed a human being into a statue. For a 
moment Tellmarch seemed thus transformed. The spec- 
tacle before his eyes held him motionless. Destruction 
was completing its work amid unbroken silence. Not 
a cry arose ; not a human sigh mingled with this smoke. 
This furnace laboured, and finished devouring the vil- 


iage, without any noise being heard save the creaking 
of the timbers and the crackling of the thatch. At 
moments the smoke parted, the fallen roofs revealed the 
gaping chambers, the brasier showed all its rubies ; rags 
turned to scarlet, and miserable bits of furniture, tinted 
with purple, gleamed amid these vermilion interiors, 
and Tellmarch was dizzied by the sinister bedazzlement 
of disaster. 

Some trees of a chestnut grove near the houses had 
taken lire, and were blazing. 

He listened, trying to catch the sound of a voice, an 
appeal, a cry. Nothing stirred except the flames ; every- 
thing was silent, save the conflagration. Was it that all 
had fled ? 

Where was the knot of people who lived and toiled at 
Herbe-en-Pail ? What had become of this little band ? 
Tellmarch descended the hill. 

A funereal enigma rose before him. He approached 
without haste, with fixed eyes. He advanced toward 
this ruin with the slowness of a shadow ; he felt like a 
ghost in this tomb. 

He reached what had been the door of the farm-house, 
and looked into the court, which had no longer any walls, 
and was confounded with the hamlet grouped about it. 

What he had before seen was nothing. He had hith 
erto only caught sight of the terrible ; the horrible ap- 
peared to him now. 

In the middle of the court was a black heap, vaguely 
outlined on one side by the flames, on the other by the 
moonlight. This heap was a mass of men ; these men 
were dead. 

All about this human mound spread a great poo] 
which smoked a little ; the flames were reflected in this 
pool, but it had no need of fire to redden it, — it was 


Tellmarch went closer, lie began to examine these 
prostrate bodies one after another : they were all dead 

The moon shone ; the conflagration also. 

These corpses were the bodies of soldiers. All had 
oheir feet bare ; their shoes had been taken. Their 
weapons were gone also ; they still wore their uniforms, 
which were blue. Here and there he could distinguish 
among these heaped-up limbs and heads shot-riddled 
hats with trico]oured cockades. They were republicans. 
They were those Parisians who on the previous evening 
had been there, all living, keeping garrison at the farm 
of Herbe-en-Pail. These men had been executed : this 
was shown by the symmetrical position of the bodies ; 
they had been struck down in order, and with care. 
They were all quite dead. Not a single death-gasp 
sounded from the mass. 

Tellmarch passed the corpses in review without omit- 
ting one ; they were all riddled with balls. 

Those who had shot them, in haste probably to get 
elsewhere, had not taken the time to bury them. 

As he was preparing to move away, his eyes fell on a 
low wall in the court, and he saw four feet protruding 
from one of its angles. 

They had shoes on them ; they were smaller than the 
others. Tellmarch went up to this spot. They were 
women's feet. Two women were lying side by side be- 
hind the wall ; they also had been shot. 

Tellmarch stooped over them. One of the women 
wore a sort of uniform; by her side was a canteen, 
bruised and empty : she had been vivandière. She had 
four balls in her head. She was dead. 

Tellmarch examined the other. This was a peasant. 
She was livid : her mouth open. Her eyes were closed 
There was no wound in her head. Her garments, which 


long marches, no doubt, had worn to rags, were disar- 
ranged by her fall, leaving her bosom half naked 
Tellmarch pushed her dress aside, and saw on one 
shoulder the round wound which a ball makes ; the 
shoulder-blade was broken. He looked at her Livid 

' k Nursing mother, " he murmured. 

He touched her. She was not cold. 

She had no hurts besides the broken shoulder-blade and 
the wound in the shoulder. 

He put his hand on her heart, and felt a faint throb. 
She was not dead. 

Tellmarch raised himself, and cried out in a terrible 
voice, — 

" Is there no one here ? " 

" Is it you, Caimand ? " a voice replied, so low that it 
could scarcely be heard. 

At the same time a head was thrust out of a hole in 
the ruin. Then another face appeared at another aper- 
ture. They were two peasants, who had hidden them- 
selves, — the only ones who survived. 

The well-known voice of the Caimand had reassured 
them, and brought them out of the holes in which they 
had taken refuge. 

They advanced toward the old man, both still trem- 
bling violently. 

Tellmarch had been able to cry out, but he could not 
talk ; strong emotions produce such effects. 

He pointed out to them with his finger the woman 
stretched at his feet. 

" Is there still life in her ? " asked one of the peasants. 

Tellmarch gave an affirmative nod of the head. 

" Is the other woman living \ " demanded the seco*^ 

Tellmarch. shook his head 


The peasant who had first shown himself continued*. 

" All the others are dead, are they not ? I saw the 
whole. I was in my cellar. How one thanks God at 
such a moment for not having a family ! My house 
burned. Blessed Saviour ! They killed everybody. This 
woman here had three children — all little. The children 
cried, 'Mother!' The mother cried, 'My children!' 
Those who massacred everybody are gone. They were 
satisfied. They carried off the little ones, and shot the 
mother. I saw it all. But she is not dead, — didn't 
you say so ? She is not dead ? Tell us, Caimand, do 
you think you could save her? Do you want us to 
help carry her to your carnichot ? " 

Tellmarch made a sign, which signified " Yes. " 

The wood was close to the farm. They quickly made 
a litter with branches and ferns. They laid the woman, 
still motionless, upon it, and set out toward the copse, 
the two peasants carrying the litter, one at the head, 
the other at the feet, Tellmarch holding the woman's 
arm, and feeling her pulse. 

As they walked, the two peasants talked; and over 
the body of the bleeding woman, whose white face was 
lighted up by the moon, they exchanged frightened 

"To kill all!" 

" To burn everything ! " 

" Ah, my God ! Is that the way things will go now ? " 

" It was that tall old man who ordered it to be done. " 

" Yes ; it was he who commanded. " 

" I did not see while the shooting went on. Was he 
there ? " 

" No. He had gone. But no matter ; it was all done 
by his orders. " 

" Then it was he who did the whole. " 

" He said, ' Kill ! burn ! no quarter ! ' * 


" He is a marquis. " 

u Of course, since he is our marquis. " 

" What do they, call him now ? " 

" He is M. de Lantenac. " 

Tellmarch raised his eyes to heaven, and murmured : 

" If I had known ! " 






PEOPLE lived in public : they ate at tables spread 
outside the doors; women seated on the steps of 
the churches made lint as they sang the * Marseillaise. " 
Park Monceaux and the Luxembourg Gardens were 
parade-grounds. There were gunsmiths' shops in full 
work ; they manufactured muskets before the eyes of the 
passers-by, who clapped their hands in applause. The 
watchword on every lip was, " Patience ; we are in revo- 
lution. " The people smiled heroically. They went to 
the theatre as they did at Athens during the Pelopon- 
nesian war. One saw play-bills such as these pasted at 
the street corners : " The Siege of Thionville ; " "A 
Mother saved from the Flames ; " " The Club of the 
Careless ; " " The Eldest of the Popes Joan ; " " The Phi- 
losopher-Soldiers : " " The Art of Village Love-making. " 
The Germans were at the gates ; a report was current 
that the King of Prussia h?d secured boxes at the Opera. 


Everything was terrible, and no one was frightened. 
The mysterious law against the suspected, which was 
the crime of Merlin of Douai, held a vision of the guil- 
lotine above every head. A solicitor named Séran, who 
had been denounced, awaited his arrest in dressing-gown 
and slippers, playing his flute at his window. Nobody 
seemed to have leisure: all the world was In a hurry. 
Every hat bore a cockade. The women said, " We are 
pretty in red caps. " All Paris seemed to be removing. 
The curiosity-shops were crowded with crowns, mitres, 
sceptres of gilded wood, and fleurs-de-lis torn down from 
royal dwellings : it was the demolition of monarchy 
that went on. Copes were to be seen for sale at the old- 
clothesmen's, and rochets hung on hooks at their doors. 
At Eamponneau's and the Porcherons, men dressed out in 
surplices and stoles, and mounted on donkeys capari- 
soned with chasubles, drank wine at the doors from 
cathedral ciboria. In the Eue Saint Jacques, barefooted 
street-pavers stopped the wheelbarrow of a peddler who 
had boots for sale, and clubbed together to buy fifteen 
pairs of shoes, which they sent to the Convention " for 
our soldiers. " 

Busts of Franklin, Eousseau, Brutus, and, we must 
add, of Marat, abounded. Under a bust of Marat in the 
Eue Cloche-Perce was hung in a black wooden frame, and 
under glass, an address against Malouet, with testimony 
in support of the charges, and these marginal lines : 

These details were furnished me by the mistress of Silvain 
Bailly, a good patriotess, who has a liking for me. 

(Signed) Marat. 

The inscription on the Palais Eoyal fountain — 
* Quantos effundit in usus ! " — was hidden under two 
great canvases painted in distemper, the one represent 


ing Cahier de Gerville denouncing to the National As< 
senibly the rallying ory of the " Chiffonistes " of Aries ; 
the other, Louis XVjl. brought back from Varennes in 
his royal carriage, and under the carriage a plank fas- 
tened by cords, on each end of which was seated a gren- 
adier with fixed bayonet. 

Very few of the larger shops were open ; peripatetic 
haberdashery and toy shops were dragged about by 
women, lighted by candles, which dropped their tallow 
on the merchandise. Open-air shops were kept by 
ex-nuns, in blond wigs. This mender, darning stock- 
ings in a stall, was a countess; that dressmaker, a 
marchioness. Madame de Boufflers inhabited a garret, 
from whence she could look out at her own hotel. 
Hawkers ran about offering the " papers of news. " Per- 
sons who wore cravats that hid their chins were called 
" the scrofulous. " Street-singers swarmed. The crowd 
hooted Pitou, the royalist song-writer, and a valiant 
man into the bargain ; he was twenty-two times impris- 
oned and taken before the revolutionary tribunal for slap- 
ping his coat-tails as he pronounced the word civism. 
Seeing that his head was in danger, he exclaimed : " But 
it is just the opposite of my head that is in fault! " — a 
witticism which made the judges laugh, and saved his 
life. This Pitou ridiculed the rage for Greek and Latin 
names ; his favourite song was about a cobbler, whom 
he called Cujus, and to whom he gave a wife named 
Cujusdam. They danced the Carmagnole in great circles. 
They no longer said " gentleman and lady, " but " citizen 
and citizeness. " They danced in the ruined cloisters 
with the church-lamps lighted on the altars, with cross- 
shaped chandeliers hanging from the vaulted roofs, and 
tombs beneath their feet. Waistcoats of " tyrant's blue " 
were worn. There were " liberty-cap " shirt-pins made 
of white, blue, and red stones. The Eue de Eichelieu 


was called the Street of Law ; the Faubourg Saint An- 
toine was named the Faubourg of Glory ; a statue of Na- 
ture stood in the Place de la Bastille. People pointed out 
to one another certain well-known personages, — Chatelet, 
Didier, Nicholas and Garnier-Delaunay, who stood guard 
at the. door of Duplay the joiner; Voullant, who never 
missed a guillotine-day, and followed the carts of the 
condemned, — he called it going to "the red mass;" 
Montrlabert, revolutionary juryman,, and a marquis, who 
took the name of " Dix Août [Tenth of August]. People 
watched the pupils of the École Militaire file past, de- 
scribed by the decrees of the Convention as " aspirants 
in the school of Mars, " and by the crowd as " the pages 
of Kobespierre. " They read the proclamations of Fréron 
denouncing those suspected of the crime of " negotian- 
tism. " The dandies collected at the doors of the mayor- 
alties to mock at the civil marriages, thronging about 
the brides and grooms as they passed, and shouting 
" Married municipaliter ! " At the Invalides the statues 
of the saints and kings were crowned with Phrygian 
caps. They played cards on the curb -stones at the cross- 
ings. The packs of cards were also in the full tide of 
revolution : the kings were replaced by genii, the queens 
by the Goddess of Liberty, the knaves by figures repre- 
senting Equality, and the aces by impersonations of 
Law. They tilled the public gardens ; the plough worked 
at the Tuileries. With all these excesses was mingled, 
especially among the conquered parties, an indescribable 
haughty weariness of life. A man wrote to Fouquier- 
Tinville, " Have the goodness to free me from existence. 
This is my address. " Champcenetz was arrested for hav- 
ing cried in the midst of the Palais Eoyal garden : " When 
are we to have the revolution of Turkey ? I want to see 
the republic à la Porte. " Newspapers appeared in legions. 
The hairdressers' men curled the wigs of women in pub- 


Jic, while the master read the " Moniteur " aloud. Others, 
surrounded by eager groups, commented with violent 
gestures upon the journal "Listen to Us," of Dubois 
Crancé, or the " Trumpet " of Father Bellerose. Some- 
times the barbers were pork-sellers as well, and hams 
and chitterlings might be seen hanging side by side 
with a golden-haired doll. Dealers sold in the open 
street " wines of the refugees ; " one merchant advertised 
wines of fifty-two sorts. Others displayed harp-shaped 
clocks and sofas à la duchesse. One hairdresser had for 
sign : " I shave the clergy ; I comb the nobility ; I ar- 
range the Third Estate. " 

People went to have their fortunes told by Martin, at 
No. 173, in the Eue d'Anjou, formerly Eue Dauphine. 
There was a lack of bread, of coals, of soap. Herds of 
milch-cows might be seen coming in from the country. 
At the Vallée, lamb sold for fifteen francs the pound. 
An order of the Commune assigned a pound of meat per 
head every ten days. People stood in rank at the doors 
of the butchers' shops. One of these files has remained 
famous : it reached from a grocer's shop in the Eue du 
Petit Carreau to the middle of the Eue Montorgueil. To 
form a line was called " holding the cord," from a long 
rope which was held in the hands of those standing in the 
row. Amid this wretchedness, the women were brave 
and mild : they passed entire nights awaiting their turn 
to get into the bakers' shops. The Eevolution resorted 
to expedients which were successful ; she alleviated this 
widespread distress by two perilous means, — the as- 
signat and the maximum. The assignat was the lever, 
the maximum was the fulcrum. This empiricism saved 
France. The enemy, whether of Coblentz or London, gam- 
bled in assignats. Girls came and went, offering laven- 
der water, garters, false hair, and selling stocks. There 
•vere jobbers on the Perron of the Eue Vi vienne, with 


muddy shoes, greasy hair, and fur caps decorated with 
fox-tails, and there were swells from the Eue Valois, 
with varnished boots, toothpicks in their mouths, and 
long-napped hats on their heads, to whom the girls said 
" theê" and " thou. " Later, the people gave chase to them 
as they did to the thieves, whom the royalists styled 
a active citizens. " For the time, theft was rare. There 
reigned a terrible destitution and a stoical probity. The 
barefooted and the starving passed with lowered eyelids 
before the jewellers' shops of the Palais Égalité. Dur- 
ing a domiciliary visit that the Section Antoine made 
to the house of Beaumarchais, a woman picked a flower 
in the garden ; the crowd boxed her ears. Wood cost 
four hundred francs in coin per cord ; people could be 
seen in the streets sawing up their bedsteads. In the 
winter the fountains were frozen ; two pails of water 
cost twenty sous : every man made himself a water-car- 
rier. A gold louis was worth three thousand nine hun- 
dred and fifty francs. A course in a hackney-coach cost 
six hundred francs. After a day's use of a carriage, 
this sort of dialogue might be heard : " Coachman, how 
much do I owe you ? * " Six thousand francs. " A 
green-grocer woman sold twenty thousand francs' worth 
of vegetables a day. A beggar said, " Help me, in the 
name of charity ! I lack two hundred and thirty francs 
to finish paying for my shoes. " At the ends of the 
bridges might be seen colossal figures sculptured and 
painted by David, which Mercier insulted. " Enormous 
wooden Punches ! " said he. The gigantic shapes sym- 
bolized Federalism and Coalition overturned. 

There was no faltering among this people. There was 
,the sombre joy of having made an end of thrones. Vol- 
unteers abounded ; each street furnished a battalion. 
The flags of the districts came and went, every one with 
its device. On the banner of the Capuchin district 


could be read, " Nobody can cut our beards. * On an- 
other, " No other nobility than that of the heart. " On 
all the walls were placards, large and small, white, yel- 
low, green, red, printed and written, on which might 
be read this motto : " Long live the Eepublic ! " The 
little children lisped " Ça ira. " 

These children were in themselves the great future. 

Later, to the tragical city succeeded the cynical city. 
The streets of Paris have offered two revolutionary as- 
pects entirely distinct, — that before and that after the 
9th Thermidor. The Paris of Saint- Just gave place to 
the Paris of Tallien. Such antitheses are perpetual; 
after Sinai the Courtille appeared. 

An attack of public madness made its appearance. It 
had already been seen eighty years before. The people 
came out from under Louis XIV. as they did from un- 
der Eobespierre, with a great need to breathe ; hence 
the regency which opened that century and the direc- 
tory which closed it, — two saturnalia after two terror- 
isms. France snatched the wicket-key and got beyond 
the Puritan cloister just as it did beyond that of monar- 
chy, with the joy of a nation that escapes. 

After the 9th Thermidor Paris was gay, but with an 
insane gaiety. An unhealthy joy overflowed all bounds. 
To the frenzy for dying succeeded the frenzy for liv- 
ing, and grandeur eclipsed itself, They had a Trimal- 
cion, calling himself Grimod de la Keynière : there was 
the " Almanac of the Gourmands. " People dined in the 
entresols of the Palais Eoyal to the din of orchestras of 
women beating drums and blowing trumpets ; the " riga- 
dooner " reigned, bow in hand. People supped Oriental 
fashion at Méot's surrounded by perfumes. The artist 
Boze painted his daughters, innocent and charming 
heads of sixteen, en guillotinées; that is to say, with 
bare necks and red shifts. To the wild dances in the 


mined churches succeeded the balls of Ruggieri, of 
Luquet-Wenzel, Mauduit, and the Montansier ; to grave 
citizenesses making lint succeeded sultanas, savages, 
nymphs ; to the naked feet of the soldiers covered with 
blood, dust, and mud, succeeded the naked feet of 
women decorated with diamonds. At the same time, 
with shamelessness, improbity reappeared; and it had 
its purveyors in high ranks, and their imitators among 
the class below. A swarm of sharpers filled Paris, and 
every man was forced to guard well his tuc, — that is, 
his pocket-book. One of the amusements of the day 
was to go to the Palace of Justice to see the female 
thieves ; it was necessary to tie fast their petticoats. 
At the doors of the theatres the street boys opened cab 
doors, saying, " Citizen and citizeness, there is room for 
two. " The * Old Cordelier " and the " Friend of the 
People " were no longer sold. In their places were cried 
"Punch's Letter" and the "Rogues' Petition." The 
Marquis de Sade presided at the Section of the Pikes, 
Place Vendôme. The reaction was jovial and ferocious. 
The Dragons of Liberty of '92 were reborn under the 
name of the Chevaliers of the Dagger. At the same 
time there appeared in the booths that type, Jocrisse. 
There were " the Merveilleuses, " and in advance of these 
feminine marvels came " the Incroyables. " People swore 
by strange and affected oaths ; they jumped back from 
Mirabeau to Bobèche. Thus it is that Paris sways back 
and forth; it is the enormous pendulum of civilization; 
it touches either pole in turn, — Thermopylae and Gomor- 
rah. After '93 the Revolution traversed a singular oc- 
cultation ; the century seemed to forget to finish that 
which it had commenced. A strange orgy interposed 
itself, took the foreground, swept back to the second 
place the awful Apocalypse, veiled the immeasurable 
vision, and laughed aloud after its fright. Tragedy 


disappeared in parody, and, rising darkly from the bot- 
tom of the horizon, a smoke of carnival effaced Medusa. 
Bat in '93, where we are, the streets of Paris still 
wore the grandiose and savage aspect of the beginning. 
They had their orators, such as Varlet, who promenaded 
in a booth on wheels, from the top of which- he harangued 
the passers-by ; they had their heroes, of whom one was 
called the " Captain of the iron-pointed sticks ; " their 
favourites, among whom ranked Guffroy, the author of 
the pamphlet " Kougiff. " Certain of these popularities 
were mischievous, others had a healthy tone ; one 
among them all was honest and fatal, — it was that of 




CIMOUEDAIN" had a conscience pure but sombre. 
There was something of the absolute within him. 
He had been a priest, which is a grave matter. A man 
may, like the sky, possess* a serenity which is dark and 
unfathomable ; it only needs that something should have 
made night within his soul. The priesthood had made 
night in that of Cimourdain. He who has been a priest 
remains one. 

What makes night within us may leave stars. Cimour- 
dain was full of virtues and verities, but they shone 
among shadows. 

His history is easily written. He had been a village 
curate, and tutor in a great family ; then he inherited a 
small legacy, and gained his freedom. 

He was above all an obstinate man. He made use of 
meditation as one does of pincers ; he did not think it 
right to quit an idea until he had followed it to the 
end ; he thought stubbornly. He understood all the 
European languages, and something of others besides. 
This man studied incessantly, which aided him to bear 
the burden of celibacy ; but nothing can be more dan- 
gerous than such a life of repression. 

He had from pride, chance, or loftiness of soul been 
true to his vows, but he had not been able to guard his 
belief. Science had demolished faith ; dogma had fainted 
within him. Then, as he examined himself, he felt that 


his soul was mutilated ; he could not nullify his priestly 
oath, but tried to remake himself man, though in an 
austere fashion. His family had been taken from him ; 
he adopted his country. A wife had been refused him ; 
he espoused humanity. Such vast plenitude has a void 
at bottom. 

His peasant parents, in devoting him to the priest- 
hood, had desired to elevate him above the common 
people ; he voluntarily returned among them. 

He went back with a passionate energy. He regarded 
the suffering with a terrible tenderness. From priest 
he had become philosopher; and from philosopher, ath- 
lete. While Louis XV. still lived, Cimourdain felt 
himself vaguely republican. But belonging to what re- 
public ? To that of Plato perhaps, and perhaps also to 
the republic of Draco. 

Forbidden to love, he set himself to hate. He hated 
lies, monarchy, theocracy, his garb of priest; he hated 
the present, and he called aloud to the future ; he had a 
presentiment of it, he caught glimpses of it in advance ; 
he pictured it awful and magnificent. In his view, to 
end the lamentable wretchedness of humanity required 
at once an avenger and a liberator. He worshipped the 
catastrophe afar off. 

In 1789 this catastrophe arrived, and found him ready. 
Cimourdain flung himself into this vast plan of human 
regeneration on logical grounds, — that is to say, for a 
mind of his mould, inexorably ; logic knows no softening. 
He lived among the great revolutionary years, and felt 
the shock of their mighty breaths, — '89, the fall of the 
Bastille, the end of the torture of the people ; on the 4th 
of August, '90, the end of feudalism; '91, Varennes, the 
end of royalty; '92, the birth of the Eepublic. He saw 
the Eevolution loom into life ; he was not a man to be 
afraid of that giant, — far from it. This sudden growth 


în everything had revivified him; and though already 
nearly old, — he was fifty, and a priest ages faster than 
another man, — he began himself to grow also. From 
year to year he saw events gain in grandeur, and he in- 
creased with them. He had at first feared that the 
Eevolution would prove abortive ; he watched it. It had 
reason and right on its side ; he demanded success for it 
likewise. In proportion to the fear it caused the timid," 
his confidence strengthened. He desired that this Mi- 
nerva, crowned with the stafs of the future, should be 
Pallas also, with the Gorgon's head for buckler. He 
demanded that her divine glance should be able at need 
to fling back to the demons their infernal glare, and give 
them terror for terror. 

Thus he reached '93. 

'93 was the war of Europe against France, and of 
France against Paris. And what was the Eevolution ? 
It was the victory of France over Europe, and of Paris 
over France. Hence the immensity of that terrible mo- 
ment, '93, — grander than all the rest of the century. 
Nothing could be more tragic : Europe attacking France, 
and France attacking Paris î A drama which reaches 
the stature of an epic. '93 is a year of intensity. The 
tempest is there in all its wrath and all its grandeur. 
Cimourdain felt himself at home. This distracted cen- 
tre, terrible and splendid, suited the span of his wings. 
Like the sea-eagle amid the tempest, this man preserved 
his internal composure and enjoyed the danger. Certain 
winged natures, savage yet calm, are made to battle the 
winds, — souls of the tempest : such exist. 

He had put pity aside, reserving it only for the 
wretched. He devoted himself to those sorts of suffer- 
ing which cause horror. Nothing was repugnant to 
him. That was his kind of goodness. He was divine 
in his readiness to succour what was loathsome. He 


searched for ulcers in order that he might kiss them. 
Noble actions with a revolting exterior are the most 
difficult to undertake ; he preferred such. One day at 
the Hôtel Dieu a man was dying, suffocated by a tumour 
in the throat, — a fetid, frightful abscess, — contagious 
perhaps, — which must be at once opened. Cimourdain 
was there ; he put his lips to the tumour, sucked it, 
spitting it out as his mouth filled, and so emptied the 
abscess and saved the man. As he still wore his priest's 
dress at the time, some one said to him, " If you were 
to do that for the king, you would be made a bishop. " 
" I would not do it for the king, " Cimourdain replied. 
The act and the response rendered him popular in the 
sombre quarters of Paris. 

They gave him so great a popularity that he could 
do what he liked with those who suffered, wept, and 
threatened. At the period of the public wrath against 
monopolists, — a wrath which was prolific in mistakes, — 
Cimourdain by a word prevented the pillage of a boat 
loaded with soap at the quay Saint Nicholas, and dis- 
persed the furious bands who were stopping the carriages 
at the barrier of Saint Lazare. 

It was he who, two days after the 10th of August, 
headed the people to overthrow the statues of the kings. 
They slaughtered as they fell : in the Place Vendôme, a 
woman called Keine Violet was crushed by the statue of 
Louis XIV. , about whose neck she had put a cord, which 
she was pulling. This statue of Louis XIV. had been 
standing a hundred years. It was erected the 12th of 
August, 1692 ; it was overthrown the 12th of August, 
1792. In the Place de la Concorde, a certain Guin- 
guerlot. was butchered on the pedestal of Louis XV. 's 
statue for having called the demolishers scoundrels. 
The statue was broken in pieces. Later, it was melted 
to coin, — into sous. The arm alone escaped, — ■ it was 


the right arm, which was extended with ^he gesture ot 
a Soman emperor. At Cimourdain's request the people 
sent a deputation with this arm to Latude, the man who 
had been thirty- seven years buried in the Bastille. 
When Latude was rotting alive, the collar on his 
neck, the chain about his loins, in the bottom of that 
prison where he had been cast by the order of thatf 
king whose statue overlooked Paris, who could have 
prophesied to him that this prison would fall, this 
statue would be destroyed ; that he would emerge 
from the sepulchre and monarchy enter it ; that he, 
the prisoner, would be the master of this hand of 
bronze which had signed his warrant; and that of 
this king of Mud there would remain only his brazen 
arm ? v ' 

Cimourdain was one of those men who have an interior 
voice to which they listen. Such men seem absent- 
minded ; no, they are attentive. 

Cimourdain was at once learned and ignorant. He 
understood all science, and was ignorant of everything 
in regard to life. Hence his severity. He had his eyes 
bandaged, like the Themis of Homer. He had the 
•blind certainty of the arrow, which, seeing not the goal, 
yet goes straight to it. In a revolution there is nothing 
so formidable . as a straight line. Cimourdain went 
straight before him, fatal, unwavering. 

He believed that in a social Genesis the farthest point 
is the solid ground, — an error peculiar to minds which 
replace reason by logic. He went beyond the Conven- 
tion ; he went beyond the Commune ; he belonged to 
the Évêché. 

The society called the Évêché, because its meetings 
were held in a hall of the former episcopal palace, was 
rather a complication of men than a union. There, as 
at the Commune, those silent bat significant spectators 


were present who, as Garat said, " had as many pistols 
as pockets. " 

The Évêché was a strange mixture, — a crowd at once 
cosmopolitan and Parisian. This is no contradiction, 
for Paris is the spot where beats the heart of the peoples. 
The great plebeian incandescence was at the Évêché. In 
comparison to it, the Convention was cold and the Com- 
mune lukewarm. The Évêché was one of those revolu- 
tionary formations similar to volcanic ones ; it contained 
everything, — ignorance, stupidity, probity, heroism, 
choler, spies. Brunswick had agents there. It num- 
bered men worthy of Sparta, and men who deserved 
the galleys. The greater part were mad and honest. 
The Gironde had pronounced by the mouth of Isnard, 
temporary president of the Convention, this monstrous 

"Take care, Parisians ! There will not remain one stone 
upon another of your city, and the day will come when the 
place where Paris stood shall be searched for." 

This speech created the Evêché. Certain men — and 
as we have just said, they were men of all nations — 
felt the need of gathering themselves close about Paris. 
Cimourdain joined this club. 

The society reacted on the reactionists. It was born 
out of that public necessity for violence which is the 
formidable and mysterious side of revolutions. Strong 
with this strength, the Évêché at once began its work. 
In the commotions of Paris it was the Commune that 
fired the cannon ; it was the Evêché that sounded the 

In his implacable ingenuousness, Cimourdain believed 
that everything in the service of truth is justice, which 
rendered him fit to dominate the extremists on either 
side. Scoundrels felt that he was honest, and were satis- 


fied. Crime is flattered by having virtue to preside over 
it ; it is at once troublesome and pleasant. Palloy, the 
architect who had turned to account the demolition of 
the Bastille, selling its stones to his own profit, and who, 
appointed to whitewash the cell of Louis XVI., in his 
zeal covered the wall with bars, chain's, and iron rings ; 
Gonchon, the suspected orator of the Faubourg Saint 
Antoine, whose quittances were afterward found ; Four- 
nier, the American, who on the 17th of July fired at 
Lafayette a pistol-shot^ paid for, it is said, by Lafayette 
himself ; Henriot, who had come out of Bicêtre, and who 
had been valet, mountebank, robber, and spy before be- 
ing a general and turning the guns on the Convention ; 
La Keynie. formerly grand-vicar of Chartres, who had 
replaced his breviary by " The Père Duchesne, " — all 
these men were held in respect by Cimourdain ; and at 
certain moments, to keep the worst of them from stum- 
bling, it was sufficient to feel his redoubtable and be- 
lieving candour as a judgment before them. It was 
thus that Saint-Just terrified Schneider. At the same 
time the majority of the Évêché, composed principally 
as it was of poor and violent men who were honest, be- 
lieved in Cimourdain and followed him. He had for 
curate or aide-de-camp, as you please, that other repub- 
lican priest, Dan j ou, whom the people loved on account 
of his height, and had christened Abbé Six-Foot. 
Cimourdain could have led where he would that intrepid 
chief called General La Pique, and that bold Truchon 
named the Great Nicholas, who had tried to save Ma- 
dame de Lamballe, and had given her his arm, and made 
her spring over the corpses, — an attempt which would 
have succeeded, had it not been for the ferocious pleas- 
antry of the barber Chariot. 

The Commune watched the Convention : the Ëvêché 
watched the Commune. Cimourdain, naturally upright 


and detesting intrigue, had broken more than one my& 
terious thread in the hand of Pache, whom Beurnonvilie 
called " the black man. " Cimourdain at the Évêché was 
on confidential terms with all. He was consulted by 
Dob sent and Momoro. He spoke Spanish with Gusman, 
Italian with Pio, English with Arthur, Flemish with 
Pereyra, German with the Austrian Proly, the bastard 
of a prince. He created a harmony between these dis- 
cordances. Hence his position was obscure and strong. 
Hébert feared him. 

In these times and among these tragic groups, Cimour- 
dain possessed the power of the inexorable. He was an 
impeccable, who believed himself infallible. No person 
had ever seen him weep. He was Virtue inaccessible 
and glacial. He was the terrible offspring of Justice. 

There is no half-way possible to a priest in a revolu- 
tion. A priest can only give himself up to this wild 
and prodigious chance either from the highest or the 
lowest motive ; he must be infamous or he must be sub- 
lime. Cimourdain was sublime, but in isolation, in 
rugged inaccessibility, in inhospitable secretiveness, 
sublime amid a circle of precipices. Lofty mountains 
possess this sinister freshness. 

Cimourdain had the appearance of an ordinary man, 
dressed in every-day garments, poor in aspect. When 
young, he had been tonsured; as an old man he was 
bald. What little hair he had left was grey. His fore- 
head was broad, and to the acute observer it revealed 
his character. Cimourdain had an abrupt way of speak- 
ing, which was passionate and solemn ; his voice was 
quick, his accent peremptory, his mouth bitter and 
sad, his eye clear and profound, and over his whole 
countenance an indescribable indignant expression. 

Such was Cimourdain. 

No one to-day knows his name. History has many of 
these great Unknown. 



WAS such a man indeed a man ? Could the servant 
of the human race know fondness ? Was he not 
too entirely a soul to possess a heart ? This widespread 
embrace, which included everything and everybody, 
could it narrow itself down to one. Could Cimourdain 
love? We answer, Yes. 

When youug, and tutor in an almost princely family, 
he had had a pupil whom he loved, — the son and heir 
of the house. It is so easy to love a child. What can 
one not pardon a child ? One forgives him for being a 
lord, a prince, a king. The innocence of his age makes 
one forget the crime of race ; the feebleness of the crea- 
ture causes one to overlook the exaggeration of rank. 
He is sc little that one forgives him for being great. 
The slave forgives him for being his master. The old 
negro idolizes the white nursling. Cimourdain had con- 
ceived a passion for his pupil. Childhood is so ineffable 
that one may unite all affections upon it.. Cimourdain 's 
whole power of loving prostrated itself, so to speak, be- 
fore this boy ; that sweet, innocent being became a sort of 
prey for that heart condemned to solitude. He loved with 
a mingling of all tendernesses, — as father, as brother, 
as friend, as maker. The child was his son, not of his 
flesh, but of his mind. He was not the father, and this 
was not his work ; but he was the master, and this his 
masterpiece. Of this little lord he had made a man, — 


perhaps a great man ; who knows ? Such are dreams* 
Has one need of the permission of a family to create an 
intelligence, a will, an upright character. He had 
communicated to the young viscount, his scholar, all 
the advanced ideas which he held himself ; he had in- 
oculated him with the redoubtable virus of his virtue ; 
he had infused into his veins his own convictions, his 
own conscience and ideal, — into this brain of an aristo- 
crat he had poured the soul of the people. 

The spirit suckles ; the intelligence is a breast. There 
is an analogy between the nurse who gives her milk and 
the preceptor who gives his thought. Sometimes the 
tutor is more father than is the father, just as often the 
nurse is more mother than the mother. 

This deep spiritual paternity bound Cimourdain to his 
pupil. The very sight of the child softened him. 

Let us add this : to replace the father was easy, — the 
boy no longer had one. He was an orphan ; his father 
and mother were both dead. To keep watch over feim 
he had only a blind grandmother and an absent great- 
uncle. The grandmother died ; the great-uncle, head of 
the family, a soldier and a man of high rank, provided 
with appointments at Court, avoided the old family dun- 
geon, lived at Versailles, went forth with the army, and 
left the orphan alone in the solitary castle. So the pre- 
ceptor was master in every sense of the word. 

Let us add still further: Cimourdain had seen the 
child born. The boy, while very little, was seized with 
a severe illness. In this peril of death Cimourdain 
watched day and night. It is the physician who pre- 
scribes, it is the nurse who saves ; and Cimourdain saved 
the child. Not only did his pupil owe to him educa- 
tion, instruction, science, but he owed him also conva- 
lescence and health; not only did his pupil owe him 
the development of his mind, he owed him life itself, 


We worship those who owe us all ; Cimourdain adored 
this child. 

. The natural separation came about at length. The 
education completed, Cimourdain was obliged to quit 
the boy, grown to a young man. With what cold and 
unconscionable cruelty these separations are insisted 
upon! How tranquilly families dismiss the preceptor, 
who leaves his spirit in' a child, and the nurse, who 
leaves her heart's blood! 

Cimourdain, paid and put aside, went out of the 
grand world and returned .to the sphere below. The 
partition between the great and the little closed again. 
The young lord, an officer of birth, and made captain at 
the outset, departed for some garrison ; the humble tutor 
(already at the bottom of his heart an unsubmissive 
priest, hastened to go down again into that obscure 
ground-floor of the Church occupied by the under clergy, 
and Cimourdain lost sight of his pupil. 

The Eevolution came on ; the recollection of that being 
whom he had made a man brooded within him, hidden 
but not extinguished by the immensity of public affairs. 

Tt is a beautiful thing to model a statue and give it 
life ; to mould an intelligence and instil truth therein 
is still more beautiful. Cimourdain was the Pygmalion 
of a soul. 

The spirit may own a child. 

This pupil, this boy, this orphan, was the sole being 
on earth whom he loved. 

But even in such an affection, would a man like this 
prove vulnerable ? 

We shall see. 




MINOS, jEACUS, and ehadamanthus. 

THERE was a public -house in the Rue du PaoD 
which was called a café. This café had a back 
room, which is to-day historical. It was there that 
often, almost secretly, met certain men, so powerful and 
so constantly watched that they hesitated to speak with 
one another in public. 

It was there that on the 23d of October, 1792, the 
Mountain and the Gironde exchanged their famous kiss. 
It was there that Garat, although he does not admit it 
in his Memoirs, came for information on that lugubrious 
night when, after having put Clavière in safety in the 
Rue de Beaune, he stopped his carriage on the Pont 
Royal to listen to the tocsin. 

On the 28th of June, 1793, three men were seated 
about a table in this back chamber. Their chairs did 
Qot touch ; they were placed one on either of the three 
sides of jbhe table, leaving the fourth vacant. It was 
about eight o'clock in the evening; it was still light in 
the street, but dark in the back room, and a lamp, hung 
from a hook in the ceiling, — a luxury there, — lighted 
the table- 


The first of these three men was pale, young, grave, 
with thin iips and a cold glance. He had a nervous 
movement in his cheek, which must have made it diffi- 
cult for him to smile. He wore his hair powdered. He 
was gloved ; his light-blue coat, well brushed, was with- 
out a wrinkle, carefully buttoned. He wore nankeen 
breeches, white stockings, a high cravat, a plaited shirt- 
frill, and shoes with silver buckles. 

Of the other two men, one was a species of giant, the 
other a sort of dwarf. The tall one was untidily dressed 
in a coat of scarlet cloth, his neck bare, his unknotted 
cravat falling down over his shirt-frill, his vest gaping 
from lack of buttons. He wore top-boots; his hair 
stood stiffly up and was disarranged, though it still 
showed traces of powder; his very peruke was like a 
mane. His face was marked with small-pox ; there was 
a choleric line between his brows ; a wrinkle that signi- 
fied kindness at the corner of his mouth ; his lips were 
thick, the teeth large ; he had the fist of a porter and 
eyes that blazed. The little one was a yellow man, who 
looked deformed when seated. He carried his head 
thrown back ; the eyes were injected with blood, there 
were livid blotches on his face ; he had a handkerchief 
knotted about his greasy, straight hair; he had no fore- 
head ; the mouth was enormous and horrible. He wore 
pantaloons instead of knee-breeches, slippers, a waist- 
coat which seemed originally to have been of white 
satin, and over this a loose jacket, under whose folds a 
hard, straight line showed that a poniard was hidden. 

The first of these men was named Eobespierre; the 
second, Danton ; the third, Marat. 

They were alone in the room. Before Danton was set 
a glass and a dusty wine-bottle, reminding one of 
Luther's pint of beer; before Marat a cup of coffee; be- 
fore Eobespierre only papers. 


Near the papers stood one of those heavy, round- 
ridged, leaden ink-stands which will be remembered by 
men who were school-boys at the beginning of this cen- 
tury. A pen was thrown carelessly by the side of the 
inkstand. On the papers lay a great brass seal, on 
which could be read Palloy fecit, and which was a per- 
fect miniature model of the Bastille. 

A i map of France was spread in the middle of the 
table. Outside the door was stationed Marat's " watch- 
dog, " — a certain Laurent Basse, porter of No. 18, Eue des 
Cordeliers, who, some fifteen days after this 28th of 
June, say the 13th of July, was to deal a blow with a 
chair on the head of a woman named Charlotte Corday, 
at this moment vaguely dreaming in Caen. Laurent 
Basse was the proof-carrier of the " Friend of the Peo- 
ple. " Brought this evening by his master to the café of 
the Eue du Paon, he had been ordered to keep the room 
closed where Marat, Danton, and Eobespierre were 
seated, and to allow no person to enter unless it might 
be some member of the Committee of Public Safety, the 
Commune, or the Evêché. 

Eobespierre did not wish to shut the door against 
Saint- Just ; Danton did not want it closed against Pache ; 
Marat would not shut it against Gusman. 

The conference had already lasted a long time. It 
was in reference to papers spread on the table, which 
Eobespierre had read. The voices began to grow louder. 
Symptoms of anger arose between these three men. 
From without, eager words could be caught at moments. 
At that period the example of the public tribunals 
seemed to have created the right to listen at doors. It 
was the time when the copying-clerk Fabricius Paris 
looked through the keyhole at the proceedings of the 
Committee of Public Safety, — a feat which, be it said by 
the way, was nofr "without its use ; for it was this Paris 


who warned Danton -on the night before the 31st of 
March, 1794. Laurent Basse had his ear to the door of 
the back room where Danton, Marat, and Eobespierre 
were. Laurent Basse served Marat, but he belonged to 
the Évêché. 



DANTON had just risen and pushed his chair hastily 

" Listen ! " he cried. " There is only one thing im- 
minent, — the peril of the Eepublic. I only know one 
thing, — ■ to deliver France from the enemy. To accom- 
plish that, all means are fair, — all ! all ! all ! When 
I have to deal with a combination of dangers, I have 
recourse to every or any expedient; when I fear all, I 
have all. My thought is a lioness. No half-measures. 
No squeamishness in resolution. Nemesis is not a con- 
ceited prude. Let us be terrible and useful. Does the 
elephant stop to look where he sets his foot ? We must 
crush the enemy ! " 

Eobespierre replied mildly, — 

" I shall be very glad. " 

And he added, — 

" The question is to know where the enemy is. " 

" Tt is outside, and I have chased it there, " said 

" It is within, and Ï watch it, " said Eobespierre. 

" And I will continue to pursue it, " resumed Danton. 

" One does not drive away an internal enemy. " 

"What, then, do you do?" 

* Exterminate it. " 

" T agree to that, " said Danton in his turn. 

Then he continued, — 


" I tell you Robespierre, it is without. * 

" Danton, I tell you it is within. " 

" Robespierre, it is on the frontier. " 

" Danton, it is in Vendée. " 

" Calm yourselves, " said a third voice. " It is every ^ 
where, and you are lost. " 

It was Marat who spoke. 

Robespierre looked at him and anwered tranquilly. 
15 Truce to generalities. I particularize. Here are facts. ' : 

" Pedant ! " grumbled Marat. 

Robespierre laid his hand on the papers spread before 
him, and continued, — 

" I have just read you the dispatches from Prieur, of 
the Marne. I have just communicated to you the in^ 
formation given by that Gélambre. Danton, listen ! The 
foreign war is nothing ; the civil war is all. The for- 
eign war is a scratch that one gets on the elbow; civil 
war is the ulcer which eats up the liver. This is the 
result of what I have been reading : The Vendée, up to 
this day divided between several chiefs, is concentrating 
herself. Henceforth she will have one sole captain — " 

" A central brigand," murmured Danton.^ 

" Who is, " pursued Robespierre, " the man that landed 
near Pontorson on the 2d of June. You have seen who 
he was. Remember this landing coincides with the 
arrest of the acting Representatives, Prieur, of the Côte- 
d'Or, and Romme, at Bay eux, by the traitorous district of 
Calvados, the 2d of June, — the same day. " 

" And their transfer to the castle of Caen, " said 

Robespierre resumed, — 

" I continue my summing up of the dispatches. The 
war of the Woods is organizing on a vast scale. At the 
same time, an English invasion is preparing, — Vendeans 
and English; it is Briton with Breton. The Hurons 



of Finistère speak the same language as the Topinambes 
of Cornwall. I have shown you an intercepted letter 
from Puisaye, in which it is said that ' twenty thousand 
red-coats distributed among the insurgents will be the 
means of raising a hundred thousand more. ' When the 
peasant insurrection is prepared, the English descent 
will be made. Look at the plan ; follow it on the 
map. " 

Eobespierre put his finger on the chart and went on : 

" The English have the choice of landing-place from 
Cancale to Paimbol. Craig would prefer the Bay of 
, Saint-Brieuc ; Cornwallis, the Bay of Saint-Cast. That 
is mere detail. The left bank of the Loire is guarded by 
the rebel Vendean army ; and as to the twenty-eight 
leagues of open country between Ancenis and Pontorson, 
forty Norman parishes have promised their aid. The 
descent will be made at three points, — Plérin, Ifnniac, 
and Pléneuf. From Plérin they can go to Saint-Brieuc, 
and from Pléneuf to Lamballe. The second day they 
will reach Dinan, where there are nine hundred Eng- 
lish prisoners, and at the same time they will occupy 
Saint-Jouan and Saint-Méen ; they will leave cavalry 
there. On the third day, two columns will march, — the 
one from Jouan on Bedée, the other from Dinan on 
Bêcherai, which is a natural fortress, and where they 
will establish two batteries. The fourth day they will 
reach Rennes. Pennes is the key of Brittany. Whoever 
has Rennes has the whole. Rennes captured, Châteauneuf 
and Saint-Malo will fall. There are at Rennes a million 
of cartridges and fifty artillery field-pieces — " 

" Which they will sweep off, " murmured Danton. 

Robespierre continued, — 

" I conclude. From Rennes three columns will fall,— 
the one on Fougères, the other on Vitré, the third on 
Redon. As the bridges are cut, the enemy will furnish 


themselves — you have seen this fact particularly stated 
— with pontoons and planks, and they will have guides 
for the points forclable by the cavalry. From Fougères 
they will radiate to Avranches ; from Eedon to Ancenis ; 
from Vitré to Laval. Nantes will capitulate. Brest 
will yield. Redon opens the whole extent of the 
Vilaine ; Fougères gives them the route of Normandy ; 
Vitré opens the route to Paris. In fifteen days they 
will have an army of brigands numbering three hundred 
thousand men, and all Brittany will belong to the King 
of France. " 

" That is to say, to the King of England, " said 

" No, to the King of France. " 

And Robespierre added, — 

" The King of France is worse. It needs fifteen days 
to expel the stranger, and eighteen hundred years to 
eliminate monarchy. " 

Danton, who had reseated himself, leaned his elbows 
on the table, and rested his head in his hands in a 
thoughtful attitude. , 

" You see the peril, " said Robespierre. " Vitré lays 
open to the English tjie road to Paris. " 

Danton raised his ,head and struck his two great 
clinched hands on the 1 map as on an anvil. 

" Robespierre, did not Verdun open the route to Paris 
to the Prussians ? " 

" Very well ! " 

" Very well, we will expel the English as we expelled 
the Prussians. " And Danton rose again. 

Robespierre laid his cold hand on the feverish fist of 
the other. 

" Danton, Champagne was not for the Prussians, and 
Brittany is for the English. To retake Verdun was a 
foreign war ; to retake Vitré will be civil war. " 


And Eobespierre murmured in a chill, deep tone,— 

" A serious difference. " 

He added aloud, — 

" Sit down again, Danton, and look at the map in- 
stead of knocking it with your fist. " 

But Danton was wholly given up to his own idea. 

" That is madness 3 " cried he, — " to look for the 
catastrophe in the west when it is in the east. Robes- 
pierre, I grant you that England is rising on the ocean ; 
but Spain is rising among the Pyrenees ; but Italy is 
rising among the Alps ; but Germany is rising on the 
Rhine. And the great Russian bear is at the bottom. 
Robespierre, the danger is a circle, and we are within it. 
On the exterior, coalition ; in the interior, treason. In 
the south, Servant half opens the door of France to the 
King of Spain. At the north, Dumouriez passes over 
to the enemy ; for that matter, he always menaced 
Holland less than Paris. Neerwinden blots out Jem- 
mapes and Yalmy. The philosopher Rabaut Saint- 
Étienne, a traitor like the Protestant he is, corresponds 
with the courtier Montesquiou. The army is destroyed. 
There is not a battalion that has more than four hundred 
men remaining ; the brave regiment of Deux-Ponts is 
reduced to a hundred and fifty men ; the camp of Pamars 
has capitulated; there are only five hundred sacks of 
flour left at Givet; we are falling back on Landau; 
Wurmser presses Kléber; Mayence succumbs bravely, 
Condé cowardly. Valencieunes also. But all that does 
not prevent Chancel, who defends Valenciennes, and old 
Féraud, who defends Condé, being heroes, as well as 
Meunier, who defended Mayence. But all the rest are 
betraying us. Dharville betrays us at Aix-la-Chapelle ; 
Mouton at Brussels ; Valence at Bréda ; Neuilly at Lim- 
bourg ; Miranda at Maestricht, Stingel, traitor : Lanoue. 
traitor ; Ligonnier, traitor ; Menou, traitor ; Dillon. 


traitor, — hideous coin of Dumouriez. We must make 
examples. Custine's countermarches look suspicious to 
me. I suspect Custine of preferring the lucrative prize 
of Frankfort to the useful capture of Coblentz. Frank- 
fort can pay four millions of war tribute ; so be it. 
What would that be in comparison with crushing that 
nest of refugees ? Treason, I say. Meunier died on the 
13th of June. Kléber is alone. In the mean time 
Brunswick strengthens and advances. He plants the 
German flag on every French place that he takes. The 
Margrave of Brandenburg is to-day the arbiter of Europe ; 
he pockets our provinces ; he will adjudge Belgium to 
himself, — you will see. One would say that we were 
working for Berlin. If this continue, and we do not 
put things in order, the French Eevolution will have 
been for the benefit of Potsdam ; it will have accom- 
plished for unique result the aggrandizement of the 
little State of Frederick IL, and we shall have killed 
the King of France for the King of Prussia's sake. " 

And Danton burst into v a terrible laugh. 

Danton' s laugh made Marat smile. 

" You have each one your hobby, " said he. " Danton, 
yours is Prussia ; Robespierre, yours is the Vendée. I 
am going to state facts in my turn. You do not per- 
ceive the real peril ; it is this : The cafés and the 
gaming-houses. The Café Choiseul is Jacobin ; the Café 
Pitou is Royalist; the Café Rendez-Vous attacks the 
National Guard; the Café of the Porte Saint Martin 
defends it; the Café Régence is against Brissot; the 
Café Corazza is for him ; the Café Procope swears by 
Diderot; the Café of the Théâtre Français swears by 
Voltaire ; at the Rotunde they tear up the assignats ; 
the Cafés Saint Marceau are in a fury; the Café 
Manouri debates the question of flour ; at the Café Foy 
uproars and fisticuffs; at the Perron the hornets of 


the finance buzz. These are the matters which are 
serious. " 

Danton laughed no longer. Marat continued to smile. 
The smile of a dwarf is worse than the laugh of a giant. 

" Do you sneer at yourself, Marat ? " growled Danton. 

Marat gave that convulsive movement of his hip 
which was celebrated. His smile died. 

" Ah, I recognize you, Citizen Danton ! It is indeed 
you who in full Convention called me, 'the individual 
Marat. ' Listen ; I forgive you. We are playing the 
fool ! Ah ! / mock at myself I See what I have done ! 
I denounced Chazot ; I denounced Pétion ; I denounced 
Kersaint ; I denounced Moreton ; I denounced Dufriche- 
Valazé; I denounced Ligonnier; I denounced Menou; I 
denounced Banneville; I denounced Gensonné; I de- 
nounced Biron ; I denounced Lidon and Chambon. Was 
I mistaken ? I smell treason in the traitor, and I find 
it best to denounce the criminal before he can commit 
his crime. I have the habit of saying in the evening 
that which you and others say on the following day. I 
am the man who proposed to the Assembly a perfect 
plan of criminal legislation. What have I done up to 
the present? I have asked for the instruction of the 
sections in order to discipline them for the Revolution \ 
I have broken the seals of thirty-two boxes ; I have re- 
claimed the diamonds deposited in the hands of Roland ; 
I proved that' the Brissotins gave to the Committee of the 
General Safety blank warrants; I noted the omissions 
in the report of Lindet upon the crimes of Capet; I 
voted the punishment of the tyrant in twenty-four 
hours ; I defended the battalions of Mauconseil and the 
Républicain; I prevented the reading of the letter of 
ISkrbonne and of Malonet ; I made a motion in favour of 
the wounded soldiers ; I caused the suppression of the 
Commission of Six ; I foresaw the treason of Dumouriez 


in the affair of Mons ; I demanded the taking of a hun- 
dred thousand relatives of the refugees as hostages for 
the commissioners delivered to the enemy ; I proposed to 
declare traitor any Representative who should pass the 
barriers; I unmasked the Roland faction in the troubles 
at Marseilles ; I insisted that a price should be set on 
the head of Égalité 's son ; I defended Bouchotte ; I 
called for a nominal appeal in order to chase Isnard 
from the chair; I caused it to be declared that the 
Parisians had deserved well of the country. That is 
why I am called a dancing-puppet by Louvet; that is 
why Finistère demands my expulsion ; why the city of 
Loudun desires that I should be exiled, the city of 
Amiens that I should be muzzled ; why Coburg wishes 
me to be arrested, and Lecointe Puiraveau proposes to 
the Convention to decree me mad. Ah, now, Citizen 
Danton, why did you ask ihe to come to your little 
council if it were not to have my opinion ? Did I ask 
to belong to it ? Far from tha't. I have no taste for dia- 
logues with counter-re volutiqhists like Robespierre and 
you. For that matter, I ought to have known that you 
would not understand me, — you no more than Robes- 
pierre; Robespierre no more than you. So there is not 
a statesman here '{ You need to be taught to spell at 
politics ; you must have the dot put over the i for you. 
What I said to you meant this : you both deceive your- 
selves. The danger is not .in London, as Robespierre 
believes ; nor in Berlin, as Danton believes : it is in 
Paris. It consists in the absence of unity ; in the right 
of each one to pull on his own side, commencing with 
you two ; in the blinding of minds ; in the anarchy of 
wills'— " 

" Anarchy ! " interrupted Danton. " Who causes that, 
if not you ? " 

Marat did not pause. 


" Robespierre, Danton, the danger is in this heap of 
cafés, in this mass of gaming-houses, this crowd of 
clubs, — Clubs of the Blacks, the Federals, the Women; 
the Club of the Impartials, which dates from Clermont- 
Tonnerre, and which was the Monarchical Club of 1790, 
a social circle conceived by the priest Claude Fauché ; 
Club of the Woollen Caps, founded by the gazetteer 
Prudhomme, et cœtera ; without counting your Club of 
the Jacobins, Eobespierre, and your Club of the Corde- 
liers Danton. The danger lies in the famine which 
caused the sack-porter Blin to hang up to the lamp of 
the Hôtel de Ville the baker of the Market Palu, Fran- 
çois Denis, and in the justice which hung the sack- 
porter Blin for having hanged the baker Denis. The 
danger is in the paper money, which the people depre- 
ciate. In the Rue du Temple an assignat of a hundred 
francs fell to the ground, and a passer-by, a man of the 
people, said, ' It is not worth the pains of picking it 
up. ' The stock-brokers and the monopolists, — there is 
the danger. To have nailed the black flag to the Hôtel 
de Ville, — a fine advance ! You arrest Baron Trenck ; 
that is not sufficient. I want this old prison intriguer's 
neck wrung. You believe that you have got out of the 
difficulty because the President of the Convention puts 
a civic crown on the head of Labertèche, who received 
forty-one sabre cuts at Jemmapes, and of whom Chénier 
makes himself the elephant driver ?• Comedies and jug- 
gling ! Ah, you will not look at Paris ! You seek the 
danger at a distance when it is close at hand. What is 
the use of your police, Robespierre ? For you have your 
spies, — Payan at the Commune, Coffinhal at the Revo- 
lutionary Tribunal, David at the Committee of General 
Security, Couthon at the Committee of Public Safety. 
You see that I know all about it. Very well, learn 
this : the danger is over your heads ; the danger is under 


your feet, — conspiracies ! conspiracies ! conspiracies 1 
The people in the streets read the newspapers to one 
another and exchange nods ; six thousand men, without 
civic papers, returned emigrants, Muscadins, and Mathe- 
vons, are hidden in cellars and garrets and the wooden 
galleries of the Palais Eoyal. People stand in a row at 
the bakers' shops, the women stand in the doorways and 
clasp their hands, crying, ' When shall we have peace ? ' 
You may shut yourselves up as close as you please in 
the hall of the Executive Council, in order to be alone : 
every word you speak is known ; and as a proof, Robes- 
pierre, here are the words you spoke last night to Saint- 
Just : 'Barbaroux begins to show a fat paunch; it will 
be a trouble to him in his flight. ' Yes ; the danger is 
everywhere, and above all in the centre. In Paris the 
'Retrogrades ' plot, while patrols go barefooted ; the aris- 
tocrats arrested on the 9th of March are already set at 
liberty ; the fancy horses which' ought to be harnessed 
to the frontier-cannon spatter mud on us in the streets ; 
a loaf of bread weighing four pounds costs three francs 
twelve sous ; the theatres play indecent pieces ; and 
Eobespierre will presently have Danton guillotined. " 

" Oh, there, there ! " said Danton. 

Robespierre attentively studied the map. 

" What is needed, " cried Marat, abruptly, " is a dicta- 
tor. Robespierre, you know that I want a dictator. " 

Robespierre raised his head. 

" I know, Marat ; you or me." !' 

" Me or, you, " said Marat. 

Danton grumbled between his teeth,' — 

" The dictatorship ; only try it ! " 

Marat caught Danton' s frown. 

" Hold ! " he began again ; " one last effort. Let us 
get some agreement. The situation is worth the trouble. 
Did we not come to an agreement for the day of the 


31st of May ? The entire question is a more serious one 
than that of Girondism, which was a question of detail. 
There is truth in what you say ; but the truth, the whole 
truth, the real truth, is what I say. In the south, 
Federalism ; in the west, Eoyalism ; in Paris, the duel 
of the Convention and the Commune ; on the frontiers^ 
the retreat of Custine and the treason of Dumouriez. 
What does all this signify ? Dismemberment. What 
is necessary to us ? Unity. There is safety ; but we 
must hasten to reach it. Paris must assume the govern- 
ment of the Eevolution. If we lose an hour, to-morrow 
the Vendeans may be at Orleans, and the Prussians in 
Paris. I grant you this, Danton ; I accord you that, 
Kobespierre. So be it. Well, the conclusion is — a 
dictatorship. Let us seize the dictatorship, — we three 
who represent the Eevolution. W^e are the three heads 
of Cerebus. Of these three heads, one talks, — that is 
you, Eobespierre; one roars, — that is you, Danton — - " 

" The other bites, " said Danton ; " that is you, 
Marat. " 

" All three bite, " said Eobespierre. 

There was a silence. Then the dialogue, full of dark 
threats, recommenced. 

" Listen, Marat ; before entering into a marriage, peo- 
ple must know each other. How did you learn what J 
said yesterday to Saint- Just ? " 

" That is my affair, Eobespierre. " 


" It is my duty to enlighten myself, and my business 
to inform myself. " 


" I like to know things. " 


" Eobespierre, I 'know what you say to Saint- Just, as I 
know what Danton says to Lacroix; as I know what 


passes on the Quay of the Theatins, at the Hôtel Labriffe, 
tha den where the nymphs of the emigration meet ; as I 
know what happens in the house of the Thilles, near 
Gonesse, which belongs to Valmerange, former adminis- 
trator of the post where Maury and Cazales went ; where, 
since then, Sieyès and Vergniaud went, and where now 
some one goes once a week. " 

In saying " some one, " Marat looked significantly at 

Danton cried, — 

" If I had two farthings' worth of power, this would 
be terrible. " 

Marat continued, — * 

" I know what I am saying to you, Eobespierre, just 
as I knew what was going on in the Temple tower when 
they fattened Louis XVI. there, so* well that the he-wolf, 
the she-wolf, and the cubs ate up eighty-six baskets of 
peaches in the month of September alone. During that 
time the people were starving. I know- that, as I know 
that Roland was hidden in a lodging looking on a back 
court, in the Rue de la Harpe ; as I know that six hun- 
dred of the pikes of July 14th were manufactured by 
Faure, the Duke of Orleans's locksmith ; as I know what 
they do in the house of the Saint-Hilaire, the mistress 
of Sillery. On the days when there is to be a ball, it is 
old Sillery himself who chalks the floor of the yellow 
saloon of the Rue Neuve des Mathurins ; Buzot and 
Kersaint dined there. Saladin dined there on the 
27th, and with whom, Robespierre ? With your friend 
Lasource. " 

" Mere words ! " muttered' Robespierre. " Lasource is 
not my friend. " 

And he added thoughtfully,— 

" In the mean while there are in London eighteen 
manufactories of false assignats." 


Marat went on in a voice still tranquil, though it had 
a slight tremulousness that was threatening, — 

" You are the faction of the All-Importants ! Yes ; I 
know everything, in spite of what Saint-Just calls ' the 
silence of State — ' " 

Marat emphasized these last words, looked at Bobes- 
pierre, and continued, — 

" I know what is said at your tahle the days when 
Lehas invites David to come and eat the dinner cooked 
by his betrothed, Elizabeth Duplay, — your future sister- 
in-law, Eobespierre. I am the far-seeing ' eye of the 
people, and from the bottom of my cave I watch. Yes, 
I see ; yes, I hear ; yes, I know ! Little things content 
you. You admire yourselves. Eobespierre poses to be 
contemplated by his Madame de Chalabre, the daughter 
of that Marquis de Chalabre who played whist with 
Louis XV. the evening Damiens was executed. Yes, 
yes ; heads are carried high. Saint-Just lives in a 
cravat. Legendre's dress is scrupulously correct, — new 
frock-coat and white waistcoat, and a shirt-frill to make 
people forget his apron. Eobespierre imagines that his- 
tory will be interested to know that he wore an olive- 
coloured frock-coat à la Constituante, and a sky-blue 
dress-coat à la Convention. He has his portrait hanging 
on all the walls of his chamber — " 

Eobespierre interrupted him in a voice even more 
composed than Marat's own: — 

" And you, Marat, have yours in all the sewers. " 

They continued this style of conversation, in which 
the slowness of their voices emphasized the violence of 
the attacks and retorts, and added a certain irony to 

" Eobespierre, you have called those who desire the 
overthrow of thrones ' the Don Quixotes of the human 


* And you, Marat, after the 4th of August, in No. 559 
of the ' Friend of the People ' (ah, I have remembered 
the number; it may be useful!), you demanded that the 
titles of the nobility should be restored to them. You 
said, ' A duke is always a duke. 

" Robespierre, in the sitting of December 7th, you 
defended the woman Eoland against Viard. " 

" Just as my brother defended you, Marat, when you 
were attacked at the Jacobin Club. What does that 
prove ? Nothing I " 

" Robespierre, we know the cabinet of the Tuileries 
where you said to Garat : ' I am tired of the Revolution ! ' " 

" Marat, it was here, in this public-house, that, on the 
29th of October, you embraced R&rbaroux. " 

"' Robespierre, you said to Buzot : ' The Republic ! 
What is that ? ' " 

" Marat, it was also in this public-house that you 
invited three Marseillais suspects to keep you company." 

" Robespierre, you have yourself escorted by a stout 
fellow from the market, armed with a club. " 

" And you, Marat, on the eve of the 10th of August 
you asked Buzot to help you flee to Marseilles disguised 
as a jockey. " 

" During the prosecutions of September you hid your- 
self, Robespierre. " 

" And you, Marat — you showed yourself. " 

" Robespierre, you flung the red cap on the ground. " 

" Yes, when a traitor hoisted it. That which deco- 
rates Dumouriez sullies Robespierre. " 

" Robespierre, you refuse^ to cover Louis XVI. 's head 
with a veil ivhile soldiers of Chateauvieux were passing. " 

" I did better than veil his head : I cut it off. " 

Danton interposed, but it was like oil flung upon 

" Robespierre, Marat, " said he ; " calm yourselves. " 


Marat did not like being named the second. He 
turned about. 

" With what does Danton meddle ? " he asked. 

Danton bounded. 

"With what do I meddle? With this! That we 
must not have fratricide; that there must be no strife 
between two men who serve the people; that it is 
enough to have a foreign war ; that it is enough to have 
a civil war ; that it would be too much to have a domes- 
tic war ; that it is I who have made the Revolution, and 
I will not permit it to be spoiled. Now you know what 
it is I meddle with ! " 

Marat replied, without raising his voice, — 

" You had better meddle with getting your accounts 
ready. " 

" My accounts ! " cried Danton. " Go ask for them 
in the defiles of Argonne, in Champagne delivered, 
in Belgium conquered, in the armies where I have 
already four 'times offered my breast to the musket- 
shots. Go demand them at the Place de la Revolution, 
at the scaffold of January 21st, from the throne flung to 
the ground, from the guillotine ; that widow — " 

Marat interrupted him, — 

" The guillotine is a virgin Amazon ; she does not give 
birth. " 

" Are you sure ? " retorted Danton. " I tell you I 
will make her fruitful. " 

" We shall see, " said Marat. He smiled. 

Danton saw this smile. 

" Marat, " cried he, " you are the man that hides ; 1 
am the man of the open air and broad day. I hate the 
life of a reptile. It would not suit me to be a wood- 
louse. You inhabit a cave ; I live in the street. You 
hold communication with none ; whosoever passes may 
see and speak with me. " 


" Pretty fellow ! Will you mount up to where I live ? " 
snarled Marat. 

Then his smile disappeared, and he continued, in a 
peremptory tone, — 

" Danton, give an account of the thirty-three thousand 
crowns, ready money, that Montmorin paid you in the 
king's name under pretext of indemnifying you for your 
post of solicitor at the Châtelet." 

"'I was of the 14th of July," said Danton, haughtily. 

" And the Garde-Meuble, and the crown diamonds ? " 

"I was of the 6th of October." * 

" And the thefts of your ( alter ego, Lacroix, in 
Belgium ? " 

" I was of the 20th of June. " \ 

" And the loans to the Montansier ? " 

" I urged the people on to the return from Varennes. " 

" And the opera-house, built with money that ypu 
furnished ? " 

" 1 armed the sections of Paris. * 

" And 'the hundred thousand livres, secret funds of 
the Ministry of Justice ? " 

lc I caused the 10 th of August." 

" And the two millions for the Assembly's secret ex 
penses, of which you took the iourth ? " 

" I stopped the enemy on their march, and I barred 
the passage to the kings in coalition. w 

" Prostitute ! " said Marat. 

Danton was terrible as he rose to his full height. 

" Yes ! " cried he. " I anl a harlot ! I sold myself, 
but I saved the world ! " 

Eobespierre had gone back to biting his nails. As 
for him, he could neither laugh nor smile. The laugh 
(the lightning) of Danton, and the smile (the sting) 
of Marat were both wanting to him. 

Danton resumed, — 


" I am like the ocean ; I have my ebb and flow. At 
low water my shoals may be seen ; at high tide you may 
see my waves, " 

" You foam, " said Marat. 

" My tempest, " said Danton. 

Marat had risen at the same moment as Danton. He 
also exploded. The snake became suddenly a dragon. 

" Ah ! " cried he. " Ah, Eobespierre ! Ah, Danton ! 
You will not listen to me ! Well, you are lost ; I tell 
you so. Your policy ends in an impossibility to go 
farther; you have no longer an outlet; and you do 
things which shut every door against you, — except that 
of the tomb. " 

" That is our grandeur, " said Danton. 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

Marat hurried on : — 

" Danton, beware. Vergniaud has also a wide mouth, 
thick lips, and frowning eyebrows ; Vergniaud is pitted, 
too, like Mirabeau and like thee ; that did not prevent 
the 31st of May. Ah, you shrug your shoulders ! Some- 
times a shrug of the shoulders makes the head fall. 
Danton, I tell thee, that big voice, that loose cravat, 
those top-boots, those little suppers, those great pockets, 
— all those are things which concern Louisette. " 

Louisette was Marat's pet name for the guillotine. 

He pursued : — 

" And as for thee, Eobespierre, thou art a Moderate, 
but that will serve nothing. Go on ! powder thyself, 
dress thy hair, brush thy clothes, play the vulgar cox- 
comb, have clean linen, keep curled and frizzed and 
bedizened ; none the less thou wilt go to the Place de 
Grève! Read Brunswick's proclamation. Thou wilt get 
a treatment no less than that of the regicide Damiens ! 
Fine as thou art, thou wilt be dragged at the tails of 
four horses. " 


" Echo of Coblentz ! " said Kobespierre between his 

" I am the echo of nothing ; I am the cry of the 

whole, Kobespierre ! Ah, you are young, you ! How 
old art thou, Danton ? Four-and-thirty. How many 
are your years, Kobespierre ? Thirty-three. Well, I — 
I have lived always ! I am the old human suffering ; 
I am six thousand years old. " 

" That is true, " retorted Danton. " For six thousand 
years Cain has been preserved in hatred, like the toad 
in a rock ; the rock breaks, Cain springs out among men, 
and is called Marat. " , 

" Danton ! " cried Marat, and a livid glare illuminated 
his eyes. 1 

" Well, what ? " asked Danton. l 

Thus these three terrible men conversed. 

They were conflicting thunderbolts. 



THERE was a pause in the dialogue ; these Titans 
withdrew for a moment each into his own 

Lions dread hydras. Robespierre had grown very 
pale, and Danton very red. A shiver ran through the 
frames of both. 

The wild-beast glare in Marat's eyes had died out; 
a calm, cold and imperious, settled again on the face of 
this man, dreaded by his formidable associates. 

Danton felt himself conquered, but he would not 
yield. He resumed. — 

" Marat talks very loud about the dictatorship and 
unity, but he has cnly one ability, — that of breaking 
to pieces. " 

Robespierre parted his thin lips, and said, — 

" As for me, I am of the opinion of Anacharsis Cloots : 
I say, Neither Roland nor Marat. " 

" And I, " replied Marat, " I say, Neither Danton nor 
Robespierre. " 

He regarded both fixedly, and added, — 

" Let me give you advice, Danton. You are in love, 
you think of marrying again ; do not meddle any more 
with politics. Be wise. " 

And moving backward a step toward the door, as if to 
go out, he made them a menacing salute, and said, — 

" Adieu, gentlemen. " 


Danton and Kobespierre shuddered. 

At this instant a voice rose from the bottom of the 
room, saying, — 

" You are wrong, Marat. " 

All three turned about. During Marat's explosion 
some one had entered unperceived by the door at the 
end of the room. 

" Is it you, Citizen Cimourdain ? " asked Marat. 
m Good -day." 

It was indeed Cimourdain. 

" I say you are wrong, Marat," lie repeated. 

Marat turned green, which was his way of growing 

" You are useful, but Eobespierre and Danton are 
necessary. Why threaten them ? Union, union, citi- 
zens ! Thepeople expect unity." 

This entrance acted like a dash of cold water, and had 
the effect that the arrival of a stranger does on a family 
quarrel, — it calmed the surface, if not the depths. 

Cimourdain advanced toward the table. 

Danton and Eobespierre knew him. They had often 
remarked among the public tribunals of the Convention 
this obscure but powerful nran, whom the people sa- 
luted. Nevertheless, Robespierre, always a stickler for 
forms, asked, — 

" Citizen, how did you enter? "' - 

" He belongs to the Évêché, " replied Marat, in a voice 
in which a certain submission was perceptible. 

Marat braved the Convention, led the Commune, and 
feared the Évêché. This is a law. 

Mirabeau fell Eobespierre stirring at some unknown 
depth below; Eobespierre felt Marat stir; Marat felt 
Hébert stir; Hébert, Babeuf. As long as the layers un- 
derneath are still, the politician can advance ; but under 
the most revolutionary there must be some subsoil, and 


the boldest stop in dismay when they feel under theii 
feet the earthquake they have created. 

To be able to distinguish the movement which covet- 
ousness causes from that brought about by principle, to 
combat the one and second the other, is the genius and 
the virtue of great revolutionists. 

Danton saw that Marat faltered. 

" Oh, Citizen Cimourdain is not one too many, " said he. 
And he held out his hand to the new-comer. 

Then he said, — 
" Zounds ! explain the situation to Citizen Cimourdain. 
He appears just at the right moment. I represent the 
Mountain ; Eobespierre represents the Committee of 
Public Safety ; Marat represents the Commune ; Cimour- 
dain represents the JÉvêché. He is come to give the 
casting vote. " 

" So be it, " said Cimourdain, simply and gravely. 

* What is the matter in question ? " 

" The Vendée, " replied Eobespierre. 

* The Vendée ! " repeated Cimourdain. 

Then he continued : " There is the great danger If 
the Eevolution perish, she will perish by the Vendée. 
One Vendée is more formidable than ten Germanys. 
In order that France may live, it is necessary to kill 
the Vendée. " 

These few words won him Eobespierre. 

Still Eobespierre asked this question : " Were you not 
formerly a priest ? " 

Cimourdain 's priestly air did not escape Eobespierre. 
He recognized in another that which he had within 

Cimourdain replied, — 

* Yes, citizen. " 

" What difference does that make ? " cried Danton. 

* When priests are good fellows, they are worth more 


than others. In revolutionary times the priests melt 
into citizens, as the bells do into arms and cannon. 
Danjou is a priest ; Daunou is a priest ; Thomas Lindet 
is the Bishop of Evreux. Kobespierre, you sit in the 
Convention side by side with Massieu, Bishop of Beau- 
vais. The Grand Vicar Vaugeois was a member of the 
Insurrection Committee of August 10th. Chabot is a 
Capuchin. It was Dom Gerle who devised the tennis- 
court oath; it was the Abbé Audran who caused the 
National Assembly to. be declared superior to the king; 
it was the Abbé Goutte who demanded of the Legisla- 
ture that the dais should be taken away from Louis 
XVI. 's armchair-; ij, was the Abbé Grégoire who pro- 
posed the abolition of royalty. " 

Seconded, * sneered Marat, " by the actor Collot 
d'Herbois. Between them they did the work, — the 
priest overturned the throne ; the comedian flung down 
the king. " 

" Let us get back to the Vendée, " said Robespierre. 

* Well, what is it ? " demanded Cimourdain. " What 
is this Vendée doing now?" 

Eobespierre answered, — 

" This : she has found a chief. She becomes terrible. " 

" Who is this chief, Citizen Robespierre ? " 

" A ci-devant Marquis de Lantenac, who styles himself 
a Breton prince. " 

Cimourdain made a movement.! 

"I know him," said he; "I was chaplain in his 
house. " 

He reflected for a moment, then added, — 

" He was a man of gallantry before being a soldier. " 

" Like Biron, who was a Lauzun, " said Danton. 

And Cimourdain continued, thoughtfully : * Yes, an 
old man of pleasure. He must be terrible. " 

" Frightful, " said Robespierre. " He burns the vil- 

162 ninety-three: 

lages, kills the wounded, massacres the prisoners, shoots 
the women. " 

" The women ! " 

" Yes. Among others he had the mother of three 
children shot. Nobody knows what became of the little 
ones. He is really a captain : he understands war. " 

" Yes, in truth, " replied Cimourdain. " He was in 
the Hanoverian war, and the soldiers said, ' Eichelieu 
in appearance, Lantenac at the bottom. ' Lantenac was 
the real general. Talk about him to your colleague 
Dussaulx. " 

Eobespierre remained silent for a moment ; then the 
dialogue began anew between him and Cimourdain. 

" Well, Citizen Cimourdain, this man is in Vendée. " 

" Since when ? " 

" The last three weeks. " 

" He must be declared an outlaw. " 

" That is done. " 

" A price must be set on his head. " 

" It is done. " 

" A large reward must be offered to whoever will take 
him. " 

" That is done. " 

" Not in assignats. w 

" That is done. " 

" In gold. " 

■ That is done. " 

* And he must be guillotined. w 
" That will be done. " 

■ By whom ? " 
« By you. " 

" By me ? w 

" Yes ; you will be delegated by the Committee of 
Public Safety with unlimited powers. " 
" I accept, " said Cimourdain. 


Eobespierre made his choice of men rapidly, — the 
quality of a true statesman. He took from the portfolio 
before him a sheet of white paper, on which could be 
read this printed heading : " The Fkench Eepublic One 
and Indivisible. — Committee of Public Safety. " 

Cimourdain continued, — 

" Yes, I accept. The terrible against the terrible. 
Lantenac is ferocious ; I shall be so too. War to the 
death against this man. I will deliver the Eepublic 
from him, please God. " 

He cheeked himself; then resumed, — 

" I am a priest ; no matter ; I believe in God. " 

" God has gone out of date, " said Danton. 

" I believe in God, " said Cimourdain, unmoved. 

Eobespierre gave a sinister nod of approval. 

Cimourdain asked,— 

" To whom am I delegated ,? " 

" The commandant of the exploring division sent 
against Lantenac. Only, — I warn you, — he is a 
nobleman. " 

Danton cried out, — 

" That is another thing which matters little. A 
noble ! Well, what then ! It is with the nobles as 
with the priests. When one of (either class is good, he 
is excellent. Nobility is a prejudice ; but we should 
not have it in one sense more than the other, — no more 
against than in favour of it. Eobespierre, is not Saint- 
Just a noble ? Florelle de Saint- Just, zounds ! Anachar- 
sis Cloots is a baron. Our friend Charles Hesse, who 
never misses a meeting of the Cordeliers, is a prince, and 
the brother of the reigning Landgrave of Hesse-Eothen- 
burg. Montaut, the intimate of Marat, is the Marquis 
de Montaut. There is in the revolutionary tribunal a 
juror who is a priest, — Vilate ; and a juror who is a 
nobleman, — Leroy, Marquis de Montflabert. Both are 
tried men. " 


" And you forget, " added Robespierre, " the foreman 
of the revolutionary jury. " 


* Who is the Marquis Antonelle, " said Robespierre. 

Danton continued, — 

" Dampierre was a nobleman, — the one who lately got 
himself killed before Condé for the Republic; and 
Beaurepaire was a noble, — he who blew his brains out 
rather than open the gates of Verdun to the Prussians. " 

" All of which, " grumbled Marat, " does not alter the 
fact that on the day Condorcet said, ' the Gracchi were 
nobles, ' Danton cried out, * All nobles are traitors, be- 
ginning with Mirabeau and ending with thee. ' " 

Cimourdain's grave voice made itself heard: — 

" Citizen Danton, Citizen Robespierre, you are perhaps 
right to have confidence, but the people distrusts them ; 
and the people is not wrong in so doing. When a priest 
is charged with the surveillance of a nobleman, the re- 
sponsibility is doubled, and it is necessary for the priest 
to be inflexible. " 

" True, " said Robespierre. 

Cimourdain added, — 

" And inexorable, " 

Robespierre replied, — 

" It is well said, Citizen Cimourdain. You will have 
to deal with a young man. You will have the ascen- 
dency over him, being double his age. It will be neces- 
sary to direct him, but he must be carefully managed. 
It appears that he possesses military talent; all the 
reports are unanimous as to that. He belongs to a corps 
which has been detached from the Army of the Rhine 
to go into Vendee. He arrives from the frontier, where 
he was noticeable for intelligence and courage. He 
leads the exploring column in a superior way. For fif- 
teen days he has held the old Marquis de Lantenac in 


check. He restrains and drives him before him. He 
will end by forcing him to the sea, and tumbling him 
into it headlong. Lantenac has the cunning of an old 
general, and the audacity of a youthful captain. This 
young man has already enemies, and those who are 
envious of him. The Adjutant-General Léchelle is jeal- 
ous of him. " 

" That L'Échelle 1 wants to be commander-in-chief, " 
interrupted Danton. " There is nothing in his favoui 
but a pun : ' It needs a ladder to get on top of a cart. 
All the same. Charette 2 beats him. " 

" And he is not willing, " pursued Eobespierre, " that 
anybody besides himself should beat Lantenac. The 
misfortune of the Vendean war is in such rivalries. 
Heroes badly commanded, — that is what our soldiers 
are. A simple captain of hussars, Chérin, enters Saumur 
with trumpets playing Ça ira ; he takes Saumur ; he 
could keep on and take Cholet but he has no orders, so 
he halts. All those commands of the Vendée must be 
remodelled. The head-quarters are scattered, the forces 
dispersed. A scattered army is an army paralyzed ; it is 
a rock crumbled into dust. At the camp of Paramé 
there are only some tents. There are a hundred useless 
little companies posted between Tréguier and Dinan, of 
which a division might be formed that could guard the 
whole coast. Léchelle, supported by Parrein, strips the 
northern coast under pretext of protecting the southern, 
and so opens France to the English. A half million 
peasants in revolt and a descent of England upon France, 
— that is Lantenac 's plan. The young commander of 
the exploring column presses his sword against Lante- 
nac 's loins, keeps it there, and beats him without 
Léchelle' s permission. Now, Léchelle is his general, so 
Léchelle denounces him. Opinions are divided in re- 

1 A ladder. 2 Charrette. — a cart. 


gard to this young man. Léchelle wants to have him 
shot. Prieur, of the Marne, wants to make him adjutant- 
general. " 

" This youth appears to me to possess great qualities, " 
said Cimourdain. 

" But he has one fault. " The interruption came from 

" What is it ? " demanded Cimourdain. 

" Clemency, " said Marat. 

Then he added, — 

" He is firm in battle, and weak afterward. He 
shows indulgence ; he pardons ; he grants mercy ; he 
protects devotees and nuns ; he saves the wives and 
daughters of aristocrats ; he releases prisoners ; he sets 
priests free. " 

" A grave fault, " murmured Cimourdain. 

" A crime, " said Marat. 

" Sometimes, " said Danton. 

" Often, " said Kobespierre. 

" Almost always, " chimed in Marat. 

" When one has to deal with the enemies of the coun- 
try — always, " said Cimourdain. 

Marat turned toward him. 

" And what, then, would you do with a republican 
chief who set a royalist chief at liberty ? " 

" I should be of Léchelle 's opinion ; I would have him 
shot. * 

" Or guillotined, * said Marat. 

ft He might have his choice, " said Cimourdain. 

Danton began to laugh. 

" I like one as well as the other. " 

" Thou art sure to have one or the other, " growled 

His glance left Danton and settled again on Cimour« 


" So, Citizen Cimourdain, if a republican leader were 
to flinch, you would cut off his head ? " 

" Within twenty-four hours. " 

" Well, " retorted Marat, " I am of Kobespierre's opin- 
ion ; Citizen Cimourdain ought to be sent as delegate of 
the Committee of Public Safety to the commandant of 
the exploring division of the coast army. How is it 
you call this commandant ? " 

Eobespierre answered, — 

K He is ^ci-devant noble. " 

He began to turn over the papers. 

" Get the priest to guard the nobleman, " said Danton. 
" I distrust a priest when he is alone ; I distrust a noble 
when he is alone. When they are together, I do not fear 
them. One watches the other, and they do well. " 

The indignant look always on Cimourdain 's face grew 
deeper, but without doubt finding the remark just at 
bottom, he did not look at Danton, but said in his stern 
voice : — 

" If the republican commander who is confided to me 
makes one false step the penalty will be death. " 

Eobespierre, with his eyes on the portfolio, said, — • 

" Here is the name, Citizen Cimourdain. The com- 
mandant, in regard to whom full( powers will be granted 
you, is a so-called viscount ; his name is Gauvain. " 

Cimourdain turned pale. 

" Gauvain ! " he cried. 

Marat saw his sudden pallor. 

" The Viscount Gauvain ! " repeated Cimourdain. 

" Yes, " said Eobespierre. 

a Well, " said Marat, with his eyes fixed on the priest. 

There was a brief silence, which Marat broke. 

" Citizen Cimourdain, on the conditions named by your- 
self, do you accept the mission as commissioner delegate 
near the Commandant Gauvain ? Is it decided ? " 


" It is decided, " replied Cimourdain. He grew palei 
and paler. 

Robespierre took the pen which lay near him, wrote 
in his slow, even hand four lines on the sheet of paper 
which bore the heading Committee of Public Safety, 
signed them, and passed the sheet and the pen to Dan- 
ton ; Danton signed, and Marat, whose eyes had not left 
Cimourdain 's livid face, signed after Danton. 

Robespierre took the paper again, dated it, and gave 
it to Cimourdain, who read, — 

Year II. of the Republic. 

Full powers are granted to Citizen Cimourdain, delegated 
Commissioner of Public Safety to the Citizen Gauvam, com- 
manding the Exploring Division of the Army of the Coasts. 
Robespierre. Danton. Marat. 

And beneath the signatures : — 

June 28, 1793. 

The revolutionary calendar, called the Civil Calendar, 
had no legal existence at this time, and was not adopted 
by the Convention, on the proposition of Romme, until 
October 5, 1793. 

While Cimourdain read, Marat watched him. 

He said in a half -voice, as if talking to himself, — - 

" It will be necessary to have all this formalized by a 
decree of the Convention, or a special warrant ol the 
Committee of Public Safety. There remains something 
yet to be done " 

" Citizen Cimourdain, where do you live ? " asked 

" Court of Commerce. " 

" So do I, too, w said Danton. " You are my neighbour. * 

Robespierre resumed, — 


" There is not a moment to lose. To-morrow you will 
receive your commission in form, signed by all the 
members of the Committee of Public Safety. This is a 
confirmation of the commission. It will accredit you in 
a special manner to the acting Kepresentatives, Philip- 
peaux, Prieur of the Marne, Lecointre, Alquier, and the 
others. We know you. Your powers are unlimited. 
You can make Oauvain a general or send him to the 
scaffold. You will receive your commission to-morrow 
at three o'clock. When shall you set out? " 

" At four, " said Cimourdain. 

And they separated. 

As he entered his house, Marat informed Simonne 
Evrard that he should go to the Convention on the 




WE approach the grand summit. 
Behold the Convention ! 

The gaze grows steady in presence of this height. 

Never has a more lofty spectacle appeared on the 
horizon of mankind. 

There is one Himalaya, and there is one Convention. 

The Convention is perhaps the culminating point of 

During its lifetime — for it lived — men did not quite 
understand what it was. It was precisely the grandeur 
which escaped its contemporaries ; they were too much 
scared to be dazzled. Everything grand possesses a sa- 
cred horror. It is easy to admire mediocrities and hills ; 
but whatever is too lofty, whether it be a genius or a 
mountain, — an assembly as well as a masterpiece, — > 
alarms when seen too near. An immense height ap- 
pears an exaggeration. It is fatiguing to climb. One 
loses breath upon acclivities, one slips down declivities ; 
one is hurt by sharp, rugged heights which are in them- 
selves beautiful; torrents in their foaming reveal the 
precipices ; clouds hide the mountain-tops ; a sudden 
ascent terrifies as much as a fall. Hence there is a 
greater sensation of fright than admiration. What one 


feels is fantastic enough, — an aversion to the grand. 
One sees the abyss and loses sight of the sublimity ; one 
sees the monster and does not perceive the marvel. 
Thus the Convention was at first judged. It was meas- 
ured by the purblind,— it, which needed to be looked at 
by eagles. .. 

To-day we see Nit in perspective, and it throws across 
the deep and distant heavens, against a background at 
once serene and, tragic, the immense profile of the French 


THE 14th oî July delivered. 
The 10th of August blasted. 

The 21st of September founded. 

The 21st of September was the Equinox; was Equi- 
librium, — Libra, the balance. It was, according to the 
remark of Komme, under this sign of Equality and Jus- 
tice that the Eepublic was proclaimed. A constellation 
heralded it. 

The Convention is the first avatar of the peoples. It 
was by the Convention that the grand new page opened 
and the future of to day commenced. 

Every idea must have a visible enfolding ; a habita- 
tion is necessary to any principle ; a church is God be- 
tween four walls ; every dogma must have a temple. 
When the Convention became a fact, the first problem 
to be solved was how to lodge the Convention. 

At first the Eiding-school, then the Tuileries, was 
taken. A platform was raised, scenery arranged, — a 
great grey painting by David imitating bas-reliefs; 
benches were placed in order ; there was a square tribune, 
parallel pilasters with plinths like blocks and long rectili- 
near stems ; square enclosures, into which the spectators 
crowded, and which were called the, public tribunes ; 
a Eoman velarium, Grecian draperies; and in these 
right-angles and these straight lines the Convention was 
installed, — the tempest confined within this geometrical 


plan. On the tribune the Eed Cap was painted in 
grey. The royalists began by laughing at this grey red 
cap, this theatrical hall, this monument of pasteboard, 
this sanctuary of papier-maché, this Pantheon of mud 
and spittle. How quickly it would disappear! The 
columns were made of the staves from hogsheads, the 
arches were of deal boards, the bas-reliefs of mastic, 
the entablatures were of pine, the statues of plaster ; 
the marbles were paint, the walls canvas ; and of this 
provisional shelter France has made an eternal dwelling. 

When the Convention began to hold its sessions in 
the Kiding-school, the walls were covered with the pla- 
cards which sprouted over Paris at the period of the 
return from Varennes. 

On one might be read : " The king returns. Any 
person who cheers him shall be beaten ; any person whf 
insults him shall be hanged. " On another : " Peace ! 
Hats on ! He is about to pass before his judges. " On 
another : " The king has aimed at the nation. He 
has hung fire; it is now the nation's turn." On an- 
other : " The Law ! The Law ! " It was within those 
walls that the Convention sat in judgment on Louis 

At the Tuileries, where the Convention began to sit 
on the 10th of May, 1793, and which was called the 
Palais-National, the assembly-hall occupied the whtle 
space between the Pavillon de l'Horloge, called the 
Pavilion of Unity, and the Pavillon Marsan, then 
named Pavilion of Liberty. The Pavilion of Flora was 
called Pavillon Égalité. The hall was reached by the 
grand staircase of Jean Bullant. The whole, ground- 
floor of the palace, beneath the story occupied by the 
Assembly, was a kind of long guard-room, littered with 
bundles and camp-beds of the troops of all arms, who 
kept watch about the Convention. The Assembly had 


a guard of honour styled " the Grenadiers of the 
Convention. " 

A tricoloured ribbon separated the palace where the 
Assembly sat from the garden in which the people came 
and went 


LET us finish the description of that sessions-hall. 
Everything in regard to this terrible place is 

What first struck the sight of any one entering was a 
great statue of Liberty, placed between two wide windows. 
One hundred and forty feet in length, thirty-four feet in 
width, thirty-seven feet in height, — such were the di- 
mensions of this room, which had. been the king's thea- 
tre, and which became the theatre of the Revolution. 
The elegant, and magnificent hall built by Vigarani for 
the courtiers was hidden by the rude timber-work which 
in '93 supported the weight of the people. This frame- 
work, whereon the public tribunes were erected, had (a 
detail deserving notice) one single post for its only point 
of support. This post was of one piece, ten metres [32 
feet 6 inches] in circumference. Few caryatides have 
laboured like that beam -, it supported for years the rude 
pressure of the Revolution. It sustained applause, en- 
thusiasm, insolence, noise, tumult, riot, — the immense 
chaos of opposing rages. It did not give way. After the 
Convention it witnessed the Council of the Ancients. 
The 18th Brumaire relieved it. 

Percier then replaced the wooden pillar by columns 
of marble, which did not last so well. 

The ideal of architects is sometimes strange. The 
architect of the Rue de Rivoli had for his ideal the 
trajectory of a cannon-ball; the architect of Carlsruhe, 


a fan ; a gigantic drawer would seem to have been the 
model of the architect who built the hall where the 
Convention began to sit on the 10th of May, 1793. it 
was long, high, and flat. At one of the sides of the 
parallelogram was a great semicircle; this amphitheatre 
contained the seats of the Representatives, but without 
tables or desks. Garan-Coulon, who wrote a great 
deal, held his paper on his knee. In front of the 
seats was the tribune ; before the tribune, the bust of 
Lepelletier Saint-Fargeau ; behind was the President's 

The head of the bust passed a little beyond the ledge 
of the tribune, for which reason it was afterward moved 
away from that position. 

The amphitheatre was composed of nineteen semi- 
circular rows of benches, rising one behind the other, 
the supports of the seats prolonging the amphitheatre 
into the two corners. 

Below, in the horse-shoe at the foot of the tribune, 
the ushers had their places. 

On one side of the tribune a placard nine feet in 
length was fastened to the wall in a black wooden frame 
bearing on two leaves, separated by a sort of sceptre, 
the " Declaration of the Rights of Man ; " on the other 
side was a vacant place, at a later period occupied by a 
similar frame, containing the Constitution of Year IL, 
with the leaves divided by a sword. Above the tribune, 
over the head of the orator, from a deep loge with double 
compartments always filled with people, floated three 
immense tricoloured flags, almost horizontal, resting on 
an altar upon which could be read the word Law. 
Behind this altar there arose, tall as a column, an enor- 
mous Roman fasces like the sentinel of free speech, 
Colossal statues, erect against the wall, faced the Repre- 
sentatives. The President had Lycurgus on his right 


hand and Solon on his left, Plato towered above the 

These statues had plain blocks of wood for pedestals, 
resting on a long cornice which encircled the hall, and 
separated the people from the Assembly, The spectators 
could lean their elbows on this cornice. 

The black wooden frame of the proclamation of the 
"' Rights of Man " reached to the cornice, and broke the 
regularity of the entablature, — an infraction of the 
straight line which caused Chabot to murmur : " It is 
ugly, " he said to Vadier. 

On the heads of the statues alternated crowns of oak- 
leaves and laurel. A green drapery, on which similar 
crowns were painted in deeper green, fell in heavy folds 
straight down from the cornice of the circumference, 
and covered the whole wall of the ground-floor occupied 
by the Assembly. Above this drapery the wall was 
white and naked. In it, as if hollowed out by a gigan- 
tic axe, without moulding or foliage, were two stories 
of public tribunes, — -the lower ones square, the upper 
ones round. According to rule, for Vitruvius was not 
dethroned, the archivolts were superimposed upon the 
architraves. There were ten tribunes on each side of 
the hall, and two huge boxes at either end, — in all, 
twenty-four. There the crowds gathered thickly. 

The spectators in the lower tribunes, overflowing their 
borders, grouped themselves along the reliefs of the cor- 
nice. A long iron bar, firmly fixed at a height to lean 
on, served as a safety rail to the upper tribunes, and 
guarded the spectators against the pressure of the throngs 
mounting the stairs. Nevertheless, a man was once 
thrown headlong into the Assembly ; he fell partly upon 
Massieu, Bishop of Beauvais and thus was not killed. 
He said " Hullo ! Why, a bishop is really good for some- 
thing ! " 


The hall of the Convention could hold two thousand 
persons comfortably ; on the days of insurrection it held 

The Convention held two sittings, one in the daytime 
and one in the evening. 

The back of the President's chair was curved, and 
studded with gilt nails. The table was upheld by four 
winged monsters, with a single foot; one might have 
thought they had come out of the Apocalypse to assist 
at the Eevolution. They seemed to have been unhar- 
nessed from Ezekiel's chariot to drag the dung-cart of 

On the President's table was a huge hand-bell almost 
large enough to have served for a church, a great cop- 
per inkstand, and a parchment folio, which was the book 
of official repprts. 

Many times freshly severed heads, borne aloft on the 
tops of pikes, sprinkled their blood-drops over this 

The tribune was reached by a staircase- of nine steps. 
These steps were high, steep, and hard to mount. One 
day Gensonné stumbled as he was going up. " It is a 
scaffold-ladder, " said he. " Serve your apprenticeship, " 
Carrier cried out to him. 

In the angles of the hall, where the wall had looked 
too naked, the architect had put Roman fasces for decora- 
tions, with the axe turned to the people. 

At the right and left of the tribune were square blocks 
supporting two candelabra twelve feet in height, having 
each four pairs of lamps. There was a similar candela- 
brum in each public box. On the pedestals were carved 
circles, which the people called guillotine-collars. 

The benches of the Assembly reached almost to the 
cornice of the tribunes ; so that the Representatives and 
^the spectators could talk together. 


The outlets from the tribunes led into a labyrinth of 
sombre corridors, often filled with a savage din. 

The Convention overcrowded the palace and flowed 
into the neighbouring mansions, — the Hôtel de Longue- 
ville and the Hôtel de Coigny. It was to the Hôtel de 
Coigny, if one may believe a letter of Lord Bradford's, 
that the royal furniture was carried after the 10th of 
August. It took two months to empty the Tuileries. 

The committees were lodged in the neighbourhood of 
the hall : in the Pavillon Égalité were those of Legisla- 
tion, Agriculture, and Commerce ; in the Pavilion of 
Liberty were the Marine, the Colonies, Finance, Assig- 
nats, and Public Safety; the War Department was at 
the Pavilion of Unity. 

The Committee of General Security communicated 
directly with that of Public Safety by an obscure pas- 
sage, lighted day and night with a reflector-lamp, where 
the spies of all parties came and went. People spoke 
there in whispers. 

The bar of the Convention was several times moved. 
Generally it was at the right of the President. 

At the far ends of the hall the vertical partitions 
which closed the concentric semicircles of the amphi- 
theatre left between them and the wall a couple of 
narrow, deep passages, from which opened two dark 
square doors. 

The Eepresentatives entered directly into the hall by 
a door opening on the Terrace des Feuillants. 

This hall, dimly lighted during the day by deep-set 
windows, took a strange nocturnal aspect when, with 
the approach of twilight, it was badly illuminated by 
lamps. Their pale glare intensified the evening shadows, 
and the lamplight sessions were lugubrious. 

It was impossible to see clearly ; from the opposite 
ends of the hall, to the right and to the left, indistinct 


groups of faces insulted each other. People met without 
recognizing one another. One day Laignelot, hurrying 
toward the tribune, hit against some person in the slop- 
ing passage between the benches. " Pardon, Eobes 
pierre, " said he. " For whom do you take me ? " replied 
a hoarse voice. " Pardon, Marat, " said Laignelot. 

At the bottom, to the right and left of the President, 
were two reserved tribunes ; for, strange to say, the 
Convention had its privileged spectators. These tri- 
bunes were the only ones that had draperies. In the 
middle of the architrave two gold tassels held up the 
curtains. The tribunes of the people were bare. 

The whole surroundings were peculiar and savage, yet 
correct. Eegularity in barbarism is rather a type of 
revolution. The hall of the Convention offered the most 
complete specimen of what artists have since called 
" architecture Messidor ; " it was massive, and yet frail. 

The builders of that time mistook symmetry for 
beauty. The last word of the Eenaissance had been 
uttered under Louis XV. , and a reaction followed. The 
noble was pushed to insipidity, and the pure to absurd- 
ity. Prudery may exist in architecture. After the 
dazzling orgies of form and colour of the eighteenth 
century, Art took to fasting, and only allowed herself 
the straight line. This species of progress ends in ugli- 
ness, and Art reduced to a skeleton is the phenomenon 
which results. The fault of this sort of wisdom and 
abstinence is, that the style is so severe that it becomes 

Outside of all political emotion, there was something 
in the very architecture of this hall which made one 
shiver. One recalled confusedly the ancient theatre 
with its garlanded boxes, its blue and crimson ceiling, 
its prismed lustres, its girandoles with diamond reflec- 
tions, its brilliant hangings, its profusion of Cupids and 


Nymphs on the curtain and draperies, the whole royal 
and amorous idyll — painted, sculptured, gilded — which 
had brightened this sombre spot with its smile, where 
now one saw on every side hard rectilinear angles, cold 
and sharp as steel ; it was something like Boucher guil- 
lotined by David. 


BUT when one saw the Assembly, the hall was for- 
gotten. Whoever looked at the drama no longer 
remembered the theatre. Nothing more chaotic and 
more sublime. A crowd of heroes ; a mob of cowards. 
Fallow deer on a mountain; reptiles in a marsh. 
Therein swarmed, elbowed one another, provoked one 
another, threatened, struggled, and lived, all those 
combatants who are phantoms to-day. 

A convocation of Titans. 

To the right, the Gironde, — a legion of thinkers ; to 
the left, the Mountain, — a group of athletes. On one 
side Brissot, who had received the keys of the Bastile ; 
Barbaroux, whom the Marseillais obeyed ; Kervélégan, 
who had under his hand the battalion of Brest, garri- 
soned in the Faubourg Saint Marceau ; Gensonné, who 
had established the supremacy of the Bepresentatives 
over the generals ; the fatal Guadet, to whom the queen 
one night, at the Tuileries, showed the sleeping Dau- 
phin : Guadet kissed the forehead of the child, and 
caused the head of the father to fall. Salles, the crack- 
brained denouncer of the intimacy between the Moun- 
tain and Austria. Sillery, the cripple of the Right, as 
Couthon was the paralytic of the Left. Lause-Duperret, 
who, having been called a scoundrel by a journalist, in- 
vited him to dinner, saying, " I know that by scoundrel 
you simply mean a man who does not think like your- 
self. " Rabaut Saint-Étienne, who commenced his al- 


manac for 1790 with this saying: " The Eevolution is 
ended. " Quinette, one of those who overthrew Louis 
XVI. ; the Jansenist Camus, who drew up the civil 
constitution of the clergy, believed in the miracles of 
the Deacon Paris, and prostrated himself each night be- 
fore a figure of Christ seven feet high, which was nailed 
to the wall of his chamber. Fauchet, a priest, who, 
with Camille Desmoulins, brought about the 14th of 
July ; Isnard, who committed the crime of saying, 
•" Paris will be destroyed, " at the same moment when 
Brunswick was saying, " Paris shall be burned. " Jacob ■ 
Dupont, the first who cried, " I am an Atheist, " and to 
whom Eobespierre replied, " Atheism is aristocratic. " 
Lanjuinais, stern, sagacious, and valiant Breton; Ducos, 
the Euryalus of Boyer-Fonfrède ; Bebecqui, the Pylades 
of Barbaroux (Bebecqui gave in his resignation because 
Eobespierre had not yet been guillotined). Eichaud, 
who combated the permanency of the Sections. La- 
source, who had given utterance to the murderous apo- 
thegm, " Woe to grateful nations ! " and who was 
afterward to contradict himself at the foot of the scaffold 
by this haughty sarcasm flung at the Mountainists : 
" We die because the people sleep ; you will die because 
the people awake. " Biroteau, who caused the abolition 
of inviolability to be decreed; who was also, without 
knowing it, the forger of the axe, and raised the scaffold 
for himself. Charles Villatte, who sheltered his con- 
science behind this protest : " I will not vote under the 
hatchet'. " Louvet, the author of " Faublas, " who was 
to end as a bookseller in the Palais Eoyal, with Lodoiska 
behind the counter. Mercier, author of the " Picture of 
Paris, " who exclaimed, " On the 21st of January, all 
kings felt for the backs of their necks ! " Marec, whose 
anxiety was " the faction of the ancient limits. " The 
journalist Carra, who said to the headsman at the foot 


of the scaffold, a It bores me to die. I would have liked 
to see the continuation. " Vigée, who called himself a 
grenadier in the second battalion of Mayenne and Loire, 
and who, when menaced by the public tribunals, cried, 
" I demand that at the first murmur of the tribunals we 
all withdraw and march on Versailles, sabre in hand ! " 
Buzot, reserved for death by famine ; Valazé destined to 
die by his own dagger ; Condorcet, who was to perish at 
Bourg-la-Keine (become Bourg-Égalité), betrayed by the 
Horace which he had in his pocket ; Pétion, whose des- 
tiny was to be adored by the crowd in 1792 and devoured 
by wolves in 1794 : twenty others still, — Pontecoulant, 
Marboz, Lidon, Saint-Martin, Dussaulx, the translator 
of Juvenal, who had been in the Hanover campaign ; 
Boileau, Bertrand, Lesterp-Beauvais, Lesage, Gomaire, 
Gardien, Mainvelle, Duplentier, Lacaze, Antiboul, and 
at their head a Barnave, who was styled Yergniaud. 

On the other side, Antoine Louis Léon Florelle de 
Saint-Just, pale, with a low forehead, a regular profile, 
eye mysterious, a profound sadness, aged twenty-three. 
Merlin of Thionville, whom the Germans called Feuer- 
teufel, — " the fire-devil. " Merlin of Douai, the culpable 
author of the " Law of the Suspected. " Soubrany, whom 
the people of Paris at the first Prairial demanded for 
general. The ancient priest Lebon, holding a sabre in 
the hand which had sprinkled holy water ; Billaud Va- 
rennes, who foresaw the magistracy of the future, without 
judges or arbiters ; Fabre d' Eglantine, who fell upon a de- 
lightful treasure-trove, — the Eepublican Calendar, — just- 
as Eouget de Lisle had a single sublime inspiration, — ■ 
the " Marseillaise ; " neither one nor the other ever pro- 
duced a second. Manuel, the attorney of the Commune, 
who had said, " A dead king is not a man the less. " 
Goujon, who had entered Tripstadt, Neustadt, and Spires, 
and had seen the Prussian army flee. Lacroix, a lawyer 


turned into a general, named Chevalier of Saint Louis l 
six days before the 10th of August. Fréron Thersites, 
the son of Fréron Zoilus. Euth, the inexorable searcher 
of the iron cupboard, predestined to a great republican 
suicide, — he was to kill himself the day the Eepublic 
died. Fouché, with the soul of a demon and the face of 
a corpse. Camboulas, the friend of Father Duchesne, 
who said to Guillotin, * Thou belongest to the Club of 
the Feuillants, but thy daughter belongs to the Jacobin 
Club. " Jagot, who to such as complained to him of the 
nudity of the prisoners, replied by this savage saying, 
" A prison is a dress of stone. " Javogues, the terrible 
desecrator of the tombs of Saint Denis. Osselm, a pro- 
scriber, who hid one of the proscribed, Madame Charry, 
in his house. Bentabolle, who, when he was in the 
chair, made signs to the tribunes to applaud or hoot. 
The journalist Eobert, the husband of Mademoiselle 
Kéralio, who wrote : " Neither Eobespierre nor Marat 
come to my house. Eobespierre may come when he 
wishes — Marat, never. " Garan Coulon, who, when 
Spain interfered in the trial of Louis XVI. , haughtily 
demanded that the Assembly should not deign to read 
the letter of a king in behalf of a king. Grégoire, a 
bishop, at first worthy of the Primitive Church, but 
who afterward, under the Empire, effaced Grégoire the 
republican beneath the Count Grégoire. Amar, who 
said : " The whole earth condemns Louis XVI. To whom, 
then, appeal for judgment ? To the planets ? " Eouyer, 
who, on the 21st of January, opposed the firing of the 
cannon of Pont Neuf, saying, " A king's head ought to 
make no more noise in falling than the head of another 
man. " Chénier, the brother of André ; Vadier, one oi 
those who laid a pistol on the tribunes ; Tanis, who 
said to Momoro, — 

" I wish Marat and Eobespierre to embrace at my 
table. ■ 


• Where dost thou live ? " 

"At Charenton." 

" Anywhere else would have astonished me, " replied 

Legendre, who was the butcher of the French Eevolu- 
tion, as Pride had been of the English. " Come, that I 
may knock you down, " he cried to Lanjuinais. 

" First have it decreed that I am a bullock, " replied 

Collot d'Herbois, that lugubrious comedian who had 
the face of the antique mask, with two mouths which 
said yes and no, approving with one while he blamed 
with the other ; branding Carrier at Nantes and defying 
Châlier at Lyons; sending Eobespierre to the scaffold 
and Marat to the Pantheon. Génissieux, who demanded 
the penalty of death against whomsoever should have 
upon him a medallion of " Louis XVI. martyred. " 
Léonard Bourdon, the schoolmaster, who had offered his 
house to the old man of Mont Jura. Topsent, sailor; 
Goupilleau, lawyer; Laurent Lecointre, merchant; Du- 
hem, physician; Sergent, sculptor; David, painter; 
Joseph Égalité, prince. 

Others still : Lecointe Puiraveau, who asked that a 
decree should be passed declaring Marat mad. Eobert 
Lindet, the disquieting creator of that devil-fish whose 
head was the Committee of General Surety, and which 
covered France with its one-and-twenfrf thousand arms 
called revolutionary committees. Lebœuf, upon whom 
Girez-Dupré, in his " Christmas of False Patriots, " had 
made this epigram, — 

" Lebœuf vit Legendre et beugla. " 

Thomas Payne, the clement American ; Anacharsis 
Cloots, German, baron, millionaire, atheist, Hébertist, 
candid. The upright Lebas, the friend of the Duplays. 
Rovère, one of those strange men who are wicked for 


wickedness' sake, — for the art, from love of the art, ex- 
ists more frequently than people believe. Charlier, who 
wished that " you" should be employed in addressing 
aristocrats. Tallien, elegiac and ferocious, who will 
bring about the 9th Thermidor from love. Cambacérès, 
a lawyer, who will be a prince later. Carrier, an attor- 
ney, who will become a tiger. Laplanche, who will one 
day cry, " I demand priority for the alarm-gun. * Thu- 
riot, who desired the vote of the revolutionary tribunal 
to be given aloud. Bourdon of the Oise, who challenged 
Chambon to a duel, denounced Payne, and was himself 
denounced by Hébert. Fayau, who proposed the send- 
ing of " an army of incendiaries " into the Vendée. 
Tavaux, who, on the 13th of April, was almost a medi- 
ator between the Gironde and the Mountain. Vernier, 
who proposed that the chiefs of the Gironde and the 
Mountain should be sent to serve as common soldiers. 
Eewbell, who shut himself up in Mayence. Bourbotte, 
who had his horse killed under him at the taking of 
Saumur. Guimberteau, who directed the army of the 
Cherbourg coast. Jard Panvilliers, who managed the 
army of the coasts of Kochelle. Lecarpentier, who led 
the squadron of Cancale. Eoberjot, for whom the am- 
bush of Eastadt was waiting. Prieur, of the Marne, who 
bore in camp his old rank of major. Levasseur of the 
Sarthe, who by a word decided Serrent, commandant of 
the battalion of Saint- Amand, to kill himself. Eever- 
chon, Maure, Bernard de Saintes, Charles Eichard, 
Lequinio, and at the summit of this group a Mirabeau, 
who was called Danton. 

Outside the two camps, and keeping both in awe, rose 
the man Eobespierre. 


BELOW crouched Dismay, which may be noble ; Mia 
Fear, which is base. Beneath passions, beneath 
heroisms, beneath devotion, beneath rage, was the gloomy 
cohort of the Anonymous. The shoals of the Assembly 
were called the Plain. There was everything there 
which floats ; the men who doubt, who hesitate, who re- 
coil, who adjourn, who wait, each one fearing somebody. 
The Mountain was made up of the Select ; the Gironde 
of the Select ; the Plain was a crowd. The Plain was 
summed up and condensed in Sieves. 

Sieves, a profound man, who had grown chimerical. 
He had stopped at the Tiers-État, and had not been able 
to mount up to the people. Certain minds are made to 
rest half-way. Sieves called Eobespierre a tiger, and 
was called a mole by Eobespierre. This metaphysician 
had stranded, not on wisdom, but prudence. He was 
the courtier, not the servitor, of the Eevolution. He 
seized a shovel, and went with the people to work in 
the Champ de Mars, harnessed to the same cart as Alex- 
ander de Beauharnais. He counselled energy, but never 
showed it. He said to the Girondists, " Put the cannon 
on your side. " There are thinkers who are wrestlers : 
those were, like Condorcet, with Vergniaud ; or like 
Camille Desmoulins, with Danton. There are thinkers 
whose aim is to preserve their lives : such were with 

The best working vats have their lees. Underneath 
the Plain even was the Marsh, — a hideous stagnation 


which exposed to view the transparencies of egotism. 
There shivered the fearful in dumb expectation. Noth- 
ing could be more abject, — a conglomeration of shames 
feeling no shame ; hidden rage ; revolt under servitude. 
They were afraid in a cynical fashion ; they had all the 
desperation of cowardice ; they preferred the Gironde and 
chose the Mountain ; the final catastrophe depended upon 
them ; they poured toward the successful side ; they de- 
livered Louis XVI. to Vergniaud, Vergniaud to Danton, 
Danton to Eobespierre, Eobespierre to Tallien. They 
put Marat in the pillory when living, and deified him 
when dead. They upheld everything up to the day 
when they overturned everything. They had the in- 
stinct to give the decisive push to whatever tottered. 
In their eyes — since they had undertaken to serve on 
condition that the basis was solid — to waver was to be- 
tray them. They were number ; they were force ; they 
were fear. From thence came the audacity of turpitude. 

Thence came May 31st, the 11th Terminal, the 9th 
Thermidor, — tragedies knotted by giants and untied by 


AMONG these men full of passions were mingled 
men filled with dreams. Utopia was there under 
all its forms, — under its warlike form, which admitted 
the scaffold, and under its innocent form, which would 
abolish capital punishment ; pnantom as it faced thrones ; 
'dugel as it regarded the people. Side by side with the 
spirits that fought were the spirits that brooded. These 
had war in their heads, those peace. One brain, Carnot, 
brought forth fourteen armies ; another intellect, Jean 
Debry, meditated a universal democratic federation. 

Amid this furious eloquence, among these shrieking 
and growling voices, there were fruitful silences. Laka- 
nal remained voiceless, and combined in his thoughts 
the system of public national education ; Lanthenas held 
his peace, and 'created the primary schools; Kevellière 
Lépaux kept still, and dreamed of the elevation of Phi- 
losophy to the dignity of Eeligion. Others occupied 
themselves with questions of detail, smaller and more 
practical. Guyton Morveaux studied means for render- 
ing the hospitals healthy ; Maire, the abolition of exist- 
ing servitudes; Jean Bon Saint- André, the suppression 
of imprisonment for debt and constraint of the person ; 
Eomme, the proposition of Chappe ; Duboë, the putting 
the archives in order ; Coren Fustier, the creation of the 
Cabinet of Anatomy and the Museum of Natural His- 
tory ; Guyomard, river navigation and the damming of 
the Scheldt. Art had its monomaniacs. On the 21st 


of January, while the head of monarchy was falling on 
the Place de la Eevolution, Bézard, the Kepresentative 
of the Oise, went to see a picture of Kubens, which had 
been found in a garret in the Eue Saint-Lazare. Artists, 
orators, prophets, men-giants like Danton, child-men 
like Cloots, gladiators and philosophers, all had the 
same goal, — progress. Nothing disconcerted them. The 
grandeur of the Convention was, the searching how much 
reality there is in what men call the impossible. At 
one extreme, Eobespierre had his eye fixed on Law; at 
the other, Condorcet had his fixed on Duty. 

Condorcet was a man of reverie and enlightenment. 
Eobespierre was a man of execution ; and sometimes, in 
the final crises of worn-out orders, execution means ex- 
termination. Eevolutions have two currents, — an ebb 
and a flow ; and on these float all seasons, from that of 
ice to flowers. Each zone of these currents produces 
men adapted to its climate, from those who live in the 
sun to those who dwell among the thunderbolts. 


PEOPLE showed each other the recess of the left* 
hand passage where Eobespierre had uttered low in 
the ear of Garât. Clavière's friend, this terrible epigram: 
" Clavière has conspired wherever he has respired. " In 
this same recess, convenient for words needed to be 
spoken aside and for half- voiced cholers, Fabre d 'Eglan- 
tine had quarrelled with Eomme. and reproached him 
for having disfigured his calendar by changing " Fervi- 
dor " into " Thermidor. " So, too, was shown the angle 
where, elbow to elbow, sat the seven Eepresentatives of 
the Haute-Garonne, who, first called to pronounce their 
verdict upon Louis XVI. , thus responded, one after the 
other : Mailhe, " Death ; " Delmas, " Death : " Projean, 
"Death;" Calés, "Death;" Ayral, "Death;" Julien, 
" Death ; " Desaby, " Death, " — ■ eternal reverberation, 
which fills all history, and which, since human justice 
has existed, has always given an echo of the sepulchre 
to the wall of the tribunal. People pointed out with 
their fingers, among that group of stormy faces, all the 
men from whose mouths had come the uproar of tragic 
notes, — Paganel, who said : " Death ! A king is only 
made useful by death. " Millaud, who said : " To-day, if 
death did not exist it would be necessary to invent it. * 
The old Eaffon du Trouillet, who said : " Speedy death ! * 
Goupilleau, who cried : " The scaffold at once. Delay 
aggravates dying. " Sieyès, who said, with funereal 
brevity : " Death ! " Thuriot, who had rejected the ap- 
peal to the people proposed by Buzot : * What ! the 


primary assemblies! What! Forty-four thousand tri 
bunals î A case without limit. The head of Louis XVI. 
would have time to whiten before it would fall. " Au- 
gustin Bon Bobespierre, who, after his brother, cried : 
" I know nothing of the humanity which slaughters the 
people and pardons despots. Death ! To demand a re- 
prieve is to substitute an appeal to tyrants for the appeal 
to the people. " Foussedoire, the substitute of Bernardin 
de Saint-Pierre, who had said : " I have a horror of hu- 
man bloodshed, but the blood of a king is not a man's 
blood. Death ! " Jean Bon Saint- André, who said : 
* No free people without a dead tyrant. " Lavicomterie, 
who proclaimed this formula : " So long as the tyrant 
breathes, Liberty is suffocated ! Death ! " Châteauneuf 
Eandon, who had uttered this cry : " Death to the last 
Louis ! " Guyardin, who had said : " Let the Barrière 
Benversée be executed. " (The Barrière Ben versée was 
the Barrière du Trône). Tellier, who had said : " Let 
there be forged, to aim against the enemy, a cannon of 
the calibre of Louis XVI. 's head. And the indulgents, 
— Gentil, who said : " I vote for confinement. To make 
a Charles I. is to make a Cromwell. " Bancel, who 
said : " Exile. I want to see the first king of the earth 
condemned to a trade in order to earn hjs livelihood. " 
Albouys, who said : " Banishment ! Let this living 
ghost go wander among the thrones. " Zangiacomi, who 
said : " Confinement. Let us keep Capet alive as a 
scarecrow. " Chaillon, who said : " Let him live. I do 
not wish to make a dead man of whom Borne will make 
a saint. " 

While these sentences fell from those severe lips and 
dispersed themselves one after another into history, 
women in low-necked dresses and decorated with gems 
sat in the tribunes, list in hand, counting the voices 
and pricking each vote with a pin. 


Where tragedy entered, horror and pity remain. 

To see the Convention, no matter at what period of 
its reign, was to see anew the trial of the last Capet. 
The legend of the 21st of January seemed mingled with 
all its acts ; the formidable Assembly was full of those 
fatal breaths which blew upon the old torch of monar- 
chy, that had burned for eighteen centuries, and extin- 
guished it. The decisive trials of all kings in that 
judgment pronounced upon one king was like the point 
of departure in the great war made against the Past. 
Whatever might be the sitting of the Convention at 
which one was present, the shadow of Louis XVI. 's 
scaffold was seen thrust forward within it. Spectators 
recounted to one another the resignation of Kersaint, 
the resignation of Eoland, Duchâtel, the deputy of the 
Deux-Sèvres, who, being ill, had himself carried to the 
Convention on his bed, and dying voted the king's life, 
which caused Marat to laugh ; and they sought with 
their eyes the Eepresentative whom history has forgot- 
ten, he who, after that session of thirty-seven hours, 
fell back on his bench overcome by fatigue and sleep, 
and when roused by the usher as his turn to vote arrived, 
half opened his eyes, said " Death, " and fell asleep 

At the moment Louis XVI. was condemned to death, 
Eobespierre had still eighteen months to live ; Danton, 
fifteen months; Vergniaud, nine months; Marat, five 
months and three weeks ; Lepelletier Saint-Fargeau, one 
day. Quick and terrible blast from human mouths ! 


THE people had a window opening on the Conven- 
tion, — the public tribunes ; and when the win- 
dow was not sufficient, they opened the door, and the 
street entered the Assembly. These invasions of the 
crowd into that senate make one of the most astounding 
visions of history. Ordinarily those irruptions were 
amicable. The market-place fraternized with the curule 
chair ; but it was a formidable cordiality, — that of a 
people who one day took within three hours the cannon 
of the Invalides and forty thousand muskets besides. 
At each instant a troop interrupted the deliberations; 
deputations presented at the bar petitions, homages, 
offerings. The pike of honour of the Faubourg Saint 
Antoine entered, borne by women. Certain English 
offered twenty thousand pairs of shoes for the naked 
feet of our soldiers. " The citizen Arnoux, " announced 
the " Moniteur, " " Curé of Aubignan, Commandant of the 
Battalion of Drome, asks to march to the frontiers, and 
desires that his 1 cure may be preserved for him. " 

Delegates from the Sections arrived, bringing on hand- 
barrows, dishes, patens, chalices, monstrances, heaps 
of gold, silver, and enamel, presented to the country by 
this multitude in rags, who demanded for recompense 
the permission to dance the Carmagnole before the Con- 
vention. Chenard, Narbonne, and Vallière came to 
sing couplets in honour of the Mountain. The Section 
of Mont Blanc brought the bust of Lepelletier, and a 
woman placed a red cap on the head of the President» 


who embraced her. The citizenesses of the Section of 
the Mail " flung flowers " to the legislators. " The pupils 
of the country " came, headed by music, to thank the 
Convention for having prepared the prosperity of the 
century. The women of the Section of the Gardes Fran- 
çaises offered roses ; the women of the Champs Elysées 
Section gave a crown of oak-leaves ; the women of the 
Section of the Temple came to the bar to swear " only to 
unite themselves with true Eepublicans. " The Section 
of Molière presented a medal of Franklin, which was 
suspended by decree to the crown of the statue of Lib- 
erty. The Foundlings — declared the Children of the 
Eepublic — filed through, habited in the national uni- 
form. The young girls of the Section of Ninety-two 
arrived in long white robes, and the " Moniteur " of the 
following morning contained this line : " The President 
received a bouquet from the innocent hands of a young 
beauty. " The orators saluted the crowds, sometimes 
flattered them : they said to the multitude, " Thou art 
infallible ; thou art irreproachable ; thou art sublime. " 
The people have an infantile side : they like those sugar- 
plums. Sometimes Eiot traversed the Assembly : en- 
tered furious and withdrew appeased, like the Ehone 
which traverses Lake Leman, and is mud when it enters 
and pure and azure when it pours out. 

Sometimes the crowd was less pacific, and Henriot 
was obliged to come with his furnaces for heating shot 
to the entrance of the Tuileries. 


AT the ^ame time that it threw off revolution, this 
Assembly produced civilization. Furnace, but 
forge too. In this caldron, where terror bubbled, pro- 
gress fermented. Out of this chaos of shadow, this 
tumultuous flight of clouds, spread immense rays of 
light parallel to the eternal laws, — rays that have re- 
mained on the horizon, visible forever in the heaven of 
the peoples, and which are, one, Justice; another, Tol- 
erance; another, Goodness; another, Eight; another, 
Truth ; another, Love. 

The Convention promulgated this grand axiom : " The 
liberty of each citizen ends where the liberty of anothei 
citizen commences, " — which comprises in two lines all 
human social law. It declared indigence sacred ; it de- 
clared infirmity sacred in the blind and the deaf and 
dumb, who became wards of the State ; maternity 
sacred in the girl -mother, whom it consoled and lifted 
up; infancy sacred in the orphan, whom it caused to 
be adopted by the country ; innocence sacred in the ac- 
cused who was acquitted, whom it indemnified. It 
branded the slave-trade; it abolished slavery. It pro- 
claimed civic joint responsibility. It decreed gratuitous 
instruction. It organized national education by the 
normal school of Paris ; central schools in the chief 
towns ; primary schools in the communes. It created 
the academies of music and the museums. It decreed 
the unity of the Code, the unity of weights and meas- 
ures, and the unity of calculation by the decimal sys- 


tern. It established the finances of France, and caused 
public credit to succeed to the long monarchical bank- 
ruptcy. It put the telegraph in operation. To old age it 
gave endowed almshouses; to sickness, purified hospi- 
tals ; to instruction, the Polytechnic School ; to science, 
the Bureau of Longitudes; to human intellect, the In- 
stitute. At the same time that it was national it was 
cosmopolitan. Of the eleven thousand two hundred and 
ten decrees which emanated from the Convention, a 
third had a political aim ; two thirds, a human aim. It 
declared universal morality the basis of society, and 
universal conscience the basis of law. And all that 
servitude abolished, fraternity proclaimed, humanity 
protected, human conscience rectified, the law of work 
transformed into right, and from onerous made honoura- 
ble, — national riches consolidated, childhood instructed 
and raised, up, letters and sciences propagated, light 
illuminating all heights, aid to all sufferings, promul- 
gation of all principle, — the Convention accomplished, 
having in its bowels that hydra, the Vendée ; and upon 
its shoulders that heap of tigers, the kings. 

) ^ 

7"i ~ '"• VV M 

Boissy d'Anglas uncovering before the Head of the 
Deputy Féraud. 


IMMENSE place ! All types were^there, — human, 
inhuman, superhuman. Epic gathering of antago- 
nisms, — Guillotin avoiding David, Bazire insulting 
Chabot, Guadet mocking Saint-Just, Vergniaud disdain- 
ing Danton, Louvet attacking Robespierre, Buzot denoun- 
cing Egalité, Chambon branding Pache : all execrating 
Marat. And how many names remain still to be regis- 
tered ! — Armonville, styled Bonnet Rouge, because he 
always attended the sittings in a Phrygian cap, a friend 
of Robespierre, and wishing, " after Louis XVI. , to guil- 
lotine Robespierre in order to restore an equilibrium ; " 
Massieu, colleague and counterpart of that good Lamour- 
ette, a bishop fitted to leave his name to a kiss ; Lehardy 
of the Morbihan, stigmatizing the priests of Brittany; 
Barère, the man of majorities, who presided when Louis 
XVI. appeared at the bar, and who was to Pamela what 
Louvet was to Lodoiska ; the Oratorian Daunou, who 
said, " Let us gain time ; " Dubois Crancé, close to 
whose ear leaned Marat; the Marquis de Châteauneuf, 
Laclos, Hérault of Séchelles, who recoiled before Hen- 
riot crying, " Gunners, to your pieces ; " Julien, who 
compared the Mountain to Thermopylae ; Gamon, who 
desired a public tribune reserved solely for women ; 
Laloy, who adjudged the honours of the séance to the 
Bishop Gobel coming into the Convention to lay down 
his mitre and put on the red cap; Lecomte, who ex- 
claimed, " So the honours are for whosoever will unfrock 
himself ; " Féraud, whose head Boissy d'Anglas saluted, 


leaving this question to history <: Did Boissy d'Anglas 
salute the head, — that is to say, the victim, — or the 
pike ; that is to say, the assassins ? " the two brothers 
Duprat, one a member of the Mountain, the other of the 
Gironde, who hated each other like the two brothers 

At this tribune were uttered those mysterious words 
which sometimes posse&5 t unconsciously to those who 
pronounce them the prophetic accent of revolutions, and 
in whose wake material facts appear suddenly to assume 
an inexplicable discontent and passion, as if they had 
taken umbrage at the things just heard ; events seem 
angered by words : catastrophes follow furious, and as if 
exasperated by the speech of men. Thus a voice upon a 
mountain suffices to set the avalanche in motion. A word 
too much may be followed by a landslip. If no one 
had spoken, the catastrophe would not have happened. 
You might say sometimes that events are irascible. 

It was thus, by the hazard of an orator's ill-compre- 
hended word, that Madame Elizabeth's head fell. 

At the Convention intemperance of language was a 
right. Threats flew about and crossed one another like 
sparks in a conflagration. 

Petion : " Robespierre, come to the point. " 

Robespierre : " The point is yourself, Pétion ; I shall 
come to it, and you will see it " 

A voice : " Death to Marat ! " 

Marat : " The day Marat dies there will be no more 
Paris, and the day that Paris expires there will be no 
longer a Eepublic. " 

Billaud Varennes rises, and says, " We wish — " 

Barère interrupts him : " Thou speakest like a king. " 

Another day, Philippeaux, says, "A member has 
drawn his sword upon me. " 

Audouin : " President, call the assassin to order. " 


The President : " Wait. " 

Panis : " President, I call you to order — I! " 

There was rude laughter moreover. 

Lecointre : a The Curé of Chant de Bout complains of 
Fauchet, his bishop, who forbids his marrying. " 

A. voice: " I do not see why Fauchet, who has mis- 
tresses, should wish to hinder others from having wives. " 

A second voice : " Priest, take a wife ! " 

The galleries joined in the conversation. They said 
" thee " and " thou " to the members. One day the Eep- 
resentative Euamps mounted to the tribune. He had 
one hip very much larger than the other. A spectator, 
crying out, thus jeered him : " Turn that toward the 
Eight, since thou hast a cheek à la David. " 

Such were the liberties the people took with the Con- 
vention. On one occasion, however, during the tumult 
of the 11th of April, 1793, the President commanded a 
disorderly person in the tribunes to be arrested. 

One day when the session had for witness the old 
Buonarotti, Eobespierre takes the floor and speaks for 
two hours, staring at Danton, sometimes straight in the 
face, which was serious ; sometimes obliquely, which 
was worse. He thunders on to the end, however. He 
closes with an indignant outburst full of menacing 
words : " The conspirators are known, the corrupters and 
the corrupted are known ; the traitors are known ; they 
are in this assembly. They hear us ; we see them, and 
we do not move our eyes from them. Let them look 
above their heads, and they will see the sword of the 
law; let them look into their conscience, and they will 
see their own infamy. Let them beware ! " And when 
Eobespierre has finished, Danton, with his face raised 
toward the ceiling, his eyes half closed, one arm hang- 
ing loosely down, throws himself back in his seat, and 
is heard to hum,— 


" Cadet Koussel fait des discours, 
Qui ne sont pas longs quand ils sont courts." * 

Imprecations followed one another, — conspirator! 
assassin ! scoundrel ! factionist ! moderate ! They de- 
nounced one another to the bust of Brutus that stood 
there, — apostrophes, insults, challenges; furious glances 
from one side to the other; fists shaken; pistols allowed 
to be seen ; poniards half drawn ; terrible blazing forth 
in the tribune. Certain persons talked as if they were 
driven back against the guillotine ; heads wavered, 
frightened and awed. Mountainists, Girondists, Feuil- 
lantists, Moderates, Terrorists, Jacobins, Cordeliers, 
eighteen regicide priests, — all these men a mass of 
vapours driven wildly in every direction. 

1 " Cadet Eoussel doth make his speech 

Quite short when it no length doth reach." 


SPIEITS which were a prey of the wind. But this 
was a miracle-working wind. To be a member of 
the Convention was to be a wave of the ocean. This 
was true even of the greatest there. The force of impul- 
sion came from on high. There was a Will in the Con- 
vention which was that of all, and yet not that of any 
one person. This Will was an Idea, : — an idea indomi- 
table and immeasurable, which swept from the summit 
of heaven into the darkness below. We call this Eevo- 
lution. When that Idea passed, it beat down one and 
raised up another; it scattered this man into foam and 
dashed that one upon the reefs. This Idea knew whither 
it was going, and drove the whirlpool before it. To 
ascribe the Eevolution to men is to ascribe the tide to 
the waves. 

The Eevolution is a work of the Unknown. Call 
it gcod or bad, according as you yearn toward the future 
or the past, but leave it to the power which caused it. 
It seems the joint work of grand events and grand indi- 
vidualities mingled, but it is in reality the result of 
events. Events dispense, men suffer; events dictate, 
men sign. The 14th of July is signed Camille Des- 
moulins ; the 10th of August is signed Danton ; the 2d 
of September is signed Marat; the 21st of September is 
signed Grégoire; the 21st of January is signed Eobes- 
pierre ; but Desmoulins, Danton, Marat, Grégoire, and 
Robespierre are mere scribes. 7^e great and mysterious 


writer of these grand pages has a name, — God; and a 
mask, Destiny. Eobespierre believed in G-od : yea. 
verily ! 

The Eevolution is a form of the eternal phenomenon 
which presses upon us from every quarter, and which 
we call Necessity. Before this mysterious complication 
of benefits and sufferings arises the Wherefore of his- 
tory. Because : this answer of him who knows nothing 
is equally the response of him who knows all. 

In presence of these climacteric catastrophes which 
devastate and revivify civilization, one hesitates to judge 
their details. To blame or praise men on account of the 
result is almost like praising or blaming ciphers on 
account of the total. That which ought to happen 
happens ; the blast which ought to blow blows. The 
Eternal Serenity does not suffer from these north winds. 
Above revolutions Truth and Justice remain as the starry 
sky lies above and beyond tempests. 



ITCH was the unmeasured and immeasurable Con 
v -^ vention, — a camp cut off from the human race, 
attacked by all the powers of darkness at once ; the 
night-fires of the besieged army of Ideas ; a vast bivouac 
of minds upon the edge of a precipice. There is nothing 
in history comparable to this group, at the same time 
senate and populace, conclave and street-crossing, Areo- 
pagus and public square, tribunal and the accused. 

The Convention always bent to the wind ; but that 
wind came from the mouth of the people, and was the 
breath of God. 

And to-day, after eighty-four years have passed away, 
always when the Convention presents itself before the 
reflection of any man, whosoever he may be, — historian 
or philosopher, — that man pauses and meditates. It 
would be impossible not to remain thoughtfully atten- 
tive before this grand procession of shadows. 



MARAT, in accordance with his declaration to 
Simonne Evrard, went to the Convention the 
morning after that interview in the Rue du Paon. There 
was in the Convention a marquis who was a Maratist, 
Louis de Montant, the same who afterward presented 
to the Convention a decimal clock surmounted by the 
bust of Marat. At the moment Marat entered, Chabot 
had approached De Montaut. He began : — 

" Ci-devant — " 

Montaut raised his eyes. " Why do you call me ci« 
devant ? " 

" Because you are so. " 

« 1?" 

" For you were a marquis. * 

' Never. " 

■ Bah ! " 

" My father was a soldier ; my grandfather was a 
weaver. " 

" What song is that you are singing, Montaut ? n 

" I do not call myself Montaut. " 

" What do you call yourself, then ? " 

" Maribon. " 

" In point of fact, " said Chabot, " it is all the same 
to me. " And he added between his teeth : " No mar- 
quis on any terms. " 

Marat paused in the corridor to the left and watched 
Montaut and Chabot. Whenever Marat entered, there 


was a buzz, but afar from him. About him people kept 
silence. Marat paid no attention thereto. He dis- 
dained " the croaking of the mud-pool. " In the gloomy 
obscurity of the lower row of seats, Conpé of the Oise, 
Prunelle, Villars, a bishop who was afterward a mem- 
ber of the French Academy, Boutroue, Petit, Plaichard, 
Bonet, Thibaudeau, and Valdruche pointed him out to 
one another. 

" See, Marat ! " 

" Then he is not ill ? " 

" Yes, for he is here in a dressing-gown. * 

" In a dressing-gown ! " 

" Zounds, yes ! " 

" He takes liberties enough !" 

" He dares to come like that into the Convention ! " 

" As he came one day crowned with laurels, he may 
oertainly come in a dressing-gown. " 

" Face of brass and teeth of verdigris. " 

" His dressing-gown looks new. " 

"What is it made of?" 

" Eeps. " 

" Striped. " 

" Look at the lapels. " 

" They are fur. " 

" Tiger-skin. " 

" No ; ermine. " 

" Imitation. " 

" He has stockings on ! " 

" That is odd. " 

* And shoes with buckles ! " 

" Of silver ! " 

" Camboulas's sabots will not pardon that. " 

People in other seats affected not to see Marat. They 
talked of indifferent matters. Santhonax accosted 


" Have you heard, Dussaulx ? n 

* What ? " 

" The ci-devant Count de Brienne ? " 

" Who was in La Force with the ci-devant Duke de 
Villeroy ? " 

" Yes. " 

" I knew them both. " 

" Well ? " 

" They were so horribly frightened that they saluted 
all the red caps of all the turnkeys, and one day they 
refused to play a game of piquet because somebody of- 
fered them cards that had kings and queens among them. " 

" Well ?" 

" They were guillotined yesterday. " 

" The two of them ?" 

" Both. " 

" Indeed ; how had they behaved in prison ? " 

" As cowards. " 

" And how did they show on the scaffold ? " 

" Intrepid. " 

Then Dussaulx ejaculated : " It is easier to die than 
to live ! " 

Barère was reading a report ; it was in regard to the 
Vendée. Nine hundred men of Morbihan had started 
with cannon to assist Nantes. Eedon was menaced by 
the peasants. Paimbœuf had been attacked. A fleet 
was cruising about Maindrin to prevent invasions. 
From Ingrande, as far as Maure, the entire left bank of 
the Loire was bristling with royalist batteries. Three 
thousand peasants were masters of Pornic. They cried, 
" Long live the English ! " A letter from Santerre to the 
Convention, which Barère was reading, ended with 
these words : — 

" Seven thousand peasants attacked Vannes. We repulsed 
them, and they have left in our hands four cannon — ?? 


rt And how many prisoners ? " interrupted a voice. 
Barère continued : rt Postscript of the letter : — 

"'We have no prisoners, because we no longer make 
any.'» 1 

Marat, standing motionless, did not listen ; he ap- 
peared absorbed by a stern preoccupation. He held in 
his hand a paper, which he crumpled between his fin- 
gers ; had any one unfolded it, he might have read these 
lines in Momoro's writing, — probably a response to some 
question he had been asked by Marat : — 

"No opposition can be offered to the full powers of dele- 
gated commissioners, above all, those of the Committee of 
Public Safety. Genissieux in vain said, in the; sitting of May 
6th, ; Each Commissioner is more than a king; ' it had no 
effect. Life and death are in their hands. Massade at An- 
gers; Trul lard at Saint- Amand; Nyon with General Marcé; 
Parrein with the army of Sables; Millier with the army of 
Niort : they are all-powerful. The Club of the Jacobins has 
gone so far as to name Parrein brigadier-general. The cir- 
cumstances excuse everything. A delegate from the Com- 
mitte of Public Safety holds in check a commander-in-chief. '[ 

Marat ceased crumpling the paper, put it in his 
pocket, and walked slowly toward Montaut and Chabot, 
who continued to converse, and had not seen him enter. 

Chabot was saying : " Maribon, or Montaut, listen to 
this : I have just come from the Committee of Public 
Safety. " 

" And what is being done there ? " 

" They are setting a priest to watch a noble- " 

« Ah ! " 

* A noble like yourself — " 

H I am not a noble, " interrupted Montaut. 

1 Moniteur, vol. xix- p. 81. 


rt To be watched by a priest — " 

" Like you. " 

" I am not a priest, " said Chabot. 

They both began to laugh. 

" Make your story explicit, " resumed Montaut. 

" Here it is, then. A priest named Cimourdain is 
delegated with full powers to a viscount named Gauvain ; 
this viscount commands the exploring column of the 
army of the coast. The question will be to keep the 
nobleman from trickery and the priest from treason. " 

" It is very simple, " replied Montaut. " It is only 
necessary to bring death into the matter. " 

" I come for that, " said Marat. 

They looked up. 

* Good-morning, Marat, " said Chabot. " You rarely 
attend our meetings. " 

e My doctor has ordered me baths, " answered Marat. 

ft One should beware of baths, " returned Chabot. 
" Seneca died in one. " 

Marat smiled. 

" Chabot, there is no Nero here. " 

'- Yes, there is you, " said a rude voice. 

It was Danton who passed and ascended to his seat. 

Marat did not turn round. He thrust his head in 
between Montaut and Chabot. 

" Listen ; I come about a serious matter. One of us 
three must propose to-day the draft of a decree to the 
Convention. " 

■ " Not I, " said Montaut ; " I am never listened to. 1 
am a marquis. " 

" And I, " said Chabot — "I am not listened to. I 
am a Capuchin. " 

" And I," said Marat — " I am not listened to. I am 
Marat. " 

There was a silence among them. 


It was not safe to interrogate Marat when lie appeared 
preoccupied, still Montaut hazarded a question. 

" Marat, what is the decree that you wish passed ? " 

" A decree to punish with death any military chief 
who allows a rebel prisoner to escape. " 

Chabot interrupted, — 

" The decree exists ; it was passed in April. " 

" Then it is just the same as if it did not exist, " said 
Marat. " Everywhere, all through Vendée, anybody 
who chooses helps prisoners to escape, and gives them an 
asylum with impunity. " 

" Marat, the fact is, the decree has fallen into disuse. " 

" Chabot, it must be put into force anew. " 

" Without doubt. " 
^A.nd to do that, the Convention must be addressed. * 

" Marat, the Convention is not necessary ; the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety will suffice. " 

" The end will be gained, " added Montaut, " if the 
Committee of Public Safety cause the decree to be pla- 
carded in all the communes of the Vendée, and make 
two or three good examples. " 

"Of men in high position," returned Chabot, — " of 
generals. " 

Marat grumbled : " In fact that will answer. " 

" Marat, " resumed Chabot, " go yourself and say that 
to the Committee of Public Safety. " 

Marat stared straight into his eyes, which was not 
pleasant even for Chabot. 

" The Committee of Public Safety, " said he, " sits in 
Eobespierre's house; I do not go there." 

" I will go myself, " said Montaut. 

" Good ! " said Marat. 

The next morning an order from the Committee of 
Public Safety was sent in all directions among the 
towns and villages of Vendée, enjoining the publication 

212 NINE li -THREE. 

and strict execution of the decree of death against any 
person conniving at the escape of brigands and captive 
insurgents. This decree proved only a first step : the 
Convention was to go further than that. A few months 
later, the 11th Brumaire, Year II. (November, 1793), 
when Laval opened its gates to the Vendean fugitives, 
the Convention decreed that any city giving asylum to 
the rebels should be demolished and destroyed. On 
their side, the princes of Europe, in the manifesto of 
the Duke of Brunswick, conceived by the emigrants and 
drawn up by the Marquis de Linnon, intendant of the 
Duke of Orleans, had declared that every Frenchman 
taken with arms in his hand should be shot, and that, 
if a hair of the king's head fell, Paris should be razed 
to the ground. 

Cruelty against barbarity. 






THEEE were at that time seven ill-famed forests in 
Brittany. The Vendean war was a revolt of 
priests. This revolt had the forests as auxiliaries. 
These spirits of darkness aid one another. 

The seven Black Forests of Brittany were the forest 
of Fougères, which stopped the way between Dol and 
Avranches ; the forest of Prince, which was eight leagues 
in circumference ; the forest of Paimpol, full of ravines 
and brooks, almost inaccessible on the side toward 
Baignon, with an easy retreat upon Con cornet, which 
was a royalist town ; the forest of Eennes, from whence 
could be heard the tocsin of the republican parishes, 
always numerous in the neighbourhood of the cities (it 
was in this forest that Puysaye lost Focard) ; the forest 
of Machecoul, which had Charette for its wild beast; 
the forest of Garnache, which belonged to the Tré- 
moilles, the Gauvains, and the Eohans ; and the forest 
of Brocéliande, which belonged to the fairies. 


One gentleman of Brittany bore the title of Lord of 
the Seven Forests : this was the Viscount de Fontenay, 
Breton Prince. For the Breton Prince existed distinct 
from the French Prince. The Eohans were Breton 
princes. Gamier de Saintes, in his report to the Con- 
vention of the 15th Mvose, Year IL, thus distinguishes 
the Prince de Talmont : " This Capet of the brigands, 
Sovereign of Maine and of Normandy. " 

The record of the Breton forests from 1792 to 1800 
would form a history of itself, mingling like a legend 
with the vast undertaking of the Vendée. History has 
its truth : Legend has hers. Legendary truth is wholly 
different from historic ; legendary truth is invention 
that has reality for a result. Still history and legend 
have the same aim, — that of depicting the external type 
of humanity. 

La Vendée can only be completely understood by 
adding legend to history; the latter is needed to de- 
scribe its entirety, the former the details. We may say, 
too, that La Vendée is worth the pains. La Vendée was 
a prodigy. 

This war of the Ignorant, so stupid and so splendid, 
so abject yet magnificent, was at once the desolation and 
the pride of France. La Vendée is a wound which is at 
the same time a glory. 

At certain crises human society has its enigmas, ~ 
enigmas which resolve themselves into light for sages, 
but which the ignorant in their darkness translate into 
violence and barbarism. The philosopher is slow to 
accuse ; he takes into consideration the agitation caused 
by these problems, which cannot pass without casting 
about them shadows dark as those of the storm-cloud. 

If one wish to comprehend Vendée, one must picture 
to one's self this antagonism: on one side the French 
Kevolution, on the other the Breton peasant. In face 


of these unparalleled events — an immense promise of 
all benefits at once, a fit of rage for civilization, an ex- 
cess of maddened progress, an improvement that ex- 
ceeded measure and comprehension — must be placed 
this grave, strange, savage man, with an eagle glance 
and flowing hair; living on milk and chestnuts; his 
ideas bounded by his thatched roof, his hedge, and his 
ditch, able to distinguish the sound of each village bell 
in the neighbourhood ; using water only to drink ; wear- 
ing a leather jacket covered with silken arabesques, 
uncultivated but clad embroidered; tattooing his gar- 
ments as his ancestors the Celts had tattooed their faces ; 
looking up to a master in his executioner ; speaking a 
dead language, which was like forcing his thoughts to 
dwell in a tomb ; driving his bullocks, sharpening his 
scythe, winnowing his black grain, kneading his buck- 
wheat biscuit; venerating his plough first, his grand- 
mother next; believing in the Blessed Virgin and the 
White Lady ; devoted to the altar, but also to the lofty 
mysterious stone standing in the midst of the moor; a 
labourer in the plain, a fisher on the coast, a poacher in 
the thicket ; loving his kings, his lords, his priests, his 
very lice ; pensive, often immovable for entire hours 
upon the great deserted sea-shore, a melancholy listener 
to the sea. 

Then ask yourself if it would have been possible foi 
this blind man to welcome that light. 



THE peasant had two points on which he leaned, — 
the field which nourished him, the wood which 
concealed him. 

It is difficult to picture to one's self what those Breton 
forests really were. They were towns. Nothing could 
be more secret, more silent, and more savage than those 
inextricable entanglements of thorns and branches ; those 
vast thickets were the home of immobility and silence ; 
no solitude could present an appearance more death-like 
and sepulchral. Yet if it had been possible to fell those 
trees at one blow, as by a flash of lightning, a swarm of 
men would have stood revealed in those shades. There 
were wells, round and narrow, masked by coverings of 
stones and branches, the interior at first vertical, then 
horizontal, spreading out underground like funnels, and 
ending in dark chambers. Cambyses found such in. 
Egypt, and Westermann found the same in Brittany. 
There they were found in the desert, here in the forest; 
the caves of Egypt held dead men, the caves of Brittany 
were filled with the living. One of the wildest glades 
of the wood of Misdon, perforated by galleries and cells 
amid which came and went a mysterious society, was 
called " the great city. " Another glade, not less de- 
serted above ground and not less inhabited beneath, was 
styled " the place royal. " 

This subterranean life had existed in Brittany from 
time immemorial. From the earliest days man had 
there hidden, flying from man. Hence those hiding- 


places, like the dens of reptiles, hollowed out below the 
trees. They dated from the era of the Druids, and cer- 
tain of those crypts were as ancient as the cromlechs. 
The larvse of legend and the monsters of history all 
passed across that shadowy land, — Teutates, Csesar, 
Hoëi, Neomenes, Geoffrey of England, Alain of the iron 
glove, Pierre Manclerc ; the French house of Blois, the 
English house of Montfort; kings and dukes, the nine 
barons of Brittany, the judges of the Great Days, the 
Counts of Nantes contesting with the Counts of Eennes ; 
highwaymen, banditti, Free Lances ; Bene II. , Viscount 
de Kohan ; the governors for the king ; " the good Duke 
of Chaulnes, " hanging the peasants under the windows 
of Madame de Sévigné ; in the fifteenth century the 
butcheries by the nobles, in the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries the wars of religion, in the eighteenth 
century the thirty thousand dogs trained to hunt men. 
Beneath these pitiless tramplings the inhabitants made 
up their minds to disappear. Each in turn — the Trog- 
lodytes to escape the Celts, the Celts to escape the Bo- 
mans, the Bretons to escape the Normans, the Huguenots 
to escape the Boman Catholics, the smugglers to escape 
the excise officers — took refuge first in the forests and 
then underground, the resource of hunted animals. It is 
this to which tyranny reduces nations. During two thou- 
sand years despotism under all its forms — conquest, 
feudality, fanaticism, taxes — beset this wretched, dis- 
tracted Brittany : a sort of inexorable battue, which 
only ceased under one shape to recommence under an- 
other. Men hid underground. When the French Bepub- 
lic burst forth, Terror, which is a species of rage, was 
already latent in human souls, and when the Bepublic 
burst forth, the dens were ready in the woods. • Brittany 
revolted, finding itself oppressed by this forced deliver- 
ance, — a mistake natural to slaves. 



THE gloomy Breton forests took up anew their an- 
cient rôle, and were the servants and accomplices 
of this rebellion, as they had been of all others. The 
subsoil of every forest was a sort of madrepore, pierced 
and traversed in all directions by a secret highway of 
mines, cells, and galleries. Each one of these blind 
cells could shelter five or six men. There are in exist- 
ence certain strange lists which enable one to understand 
the powerful organization of that vast peasant rebellion. 
In Ille-et-Vilaine, in the forest of Pertre, the refuge of 
the Prince de Talmont, not a breath was heard, not a 
human trace to be found, yet there were collected six 
thousand men under Focard. In the forest of Meulac, 
in Morbihan, not a soul was to be seen, yet it held eight 
thousand men. Still, these two forests, Pertre and Meu- 
lac, do not count among the great Breton forests. If 
one trod there, the explosion was terrible. Those hypo- 
critical copses, filled with fighters waiting in a sort of 
underground labyrinth, were like enormous black sponges 
whence, under the pressure of the gigantic foot of Revo- 
lution, civil war spurted out. Invisible battalions lay 
there in wait. These untrackable armies wound along 
beneath the republican troops ; burst suddenly forth from 
the earth and sank into it again ; sprang up in number- 
less force and vanished at will; gifted with a strange 
ubiquity and power of disappearance, an avalanche at one 
instant, gone like a cloud of dust at the next ; colossal, 


yet able to become pygmies at will ; giants in battle, 
dwarfs in ability to conceal themselves, jaguars with the 
habits of moles. 

There were not only the forests, there were the woods. 
Just as below cities there are villages, below these for- 
ests there were woods and underwoods. The forests 
were united by the labyrinths (everywhere scattered) of 
the woods. The ancient castles, which were fortresses ; 
the hamlets, which were camps ; the farms, which were 
enclosures for ambushes and snares, traversed by ditches 
and palisaded by trees, — were the meshes of the net in 
which the republican armies were caught. 

This whole formed what is called the " Bocage. " 
There was the wood of Misdon, which had a pond in 
its centre, and which was held by Jean Chouan. There 
was the wood of Gennes, which belonged to Taillefer. 
There was the wood of Huisserie, which belonged to 
Gouge-le-Bruant ; the wood of Charnie, where lurked 
Courtillé-le-Batard, called Saint-Paul, chief of the camp 
of the Vache Noire ; the wood of Burgault, which was 
held by that enigmatical Monsieur Jacques, reserved 
for a mysterious end in the vault of Juvardeil. There 
was the wood of Charreau, where Pimousse and Petit- 
Prince, when attacked by the garrison of Châteauneuf, 
rushed forward and seized the grenadiers in the repub- 
lican ranks about the waist and carried them back pris- 
oners ; the wood of La Heureuserie, the witness of the 
rout of the military post of Longue-Faye ; the wood of 
Aulne, whence the route between Eennes and Laval 
could be overlooked ; the wood of La Gravelle, which a 
prince of La Trémoille had won at a game of bowls ; the 
wood of Lorges, in the Cotes-du-JSTord, where Charles de 
Boishardy reigned after Bernard de Villeneuve ; the 
wood of Bagnard, near Pontenay, where Lescure offered 
battle to Chalbos, who accepted the challenge, although 


one against five; the wood of La Durondais, which in 
old days had been disputed by Alain le Kedru and 
Hérispoux, the son of Charles the Bald; the wood of 
Croqueloup, upon the edge of that moor where Coquereau 
sheared the prisoners ; the wood of Croix-Bataille, which 
witnessed the Homeric insults of Jambe d'Argent to 
Morière and of Morière to Jambe d'Argent; the wood of 
La Saudraie, which we have seen being searched by a 
Paris regiment. There were many others besides. In 
several of these forests and woods there were not only 
subterranean villages grouped about the burrow of the 
chief, but also actual hamlets of low huts, hidden under 
the trees, sometimes so numerous that the forest was 
filled with them. Frequently they were betrayed by the 
smoke. Two of these hamlets of the wood of Misdon 
have remained famous, — Lorrière, near Létang, and the 
group of cabins called the Eue de Bau, on the side 
toward Saint-Ouen-les-Toits. 

The women lived in the huts, and the men in the 
cellars. In carrying on the war they utilized the gal- 
leries of the fairies and the old Celtic mines. Food was 
carried to the buried men. Some were forgotten, and 
died of hunger; but these were awkward fellows, who 
had not known how to open the mouth of their well. 
Usually the cover, made of moss and branches, was so 
artistically fashioned that, although impossible on the 
outside to distinguish from the surrounding turf, it was 
very easy to open and close on the inside. These hid- 
ing places were dug with care. The earth taken out of 
the well was flung into some neighbouring pond. The 
sides and the bottom were carpeted with ferns and moss. 
These nooks were called " lodges. " The men were as 
comfortable there as could be expected, considering that 
they lacked light, fire, bread, and air. 

It was a difficult matter to unbury themselves and 


come up among the living without great precaution. 
They might find themselves between the legs of an army 
on the march. These were formidable woods, snares 
with a double trap; the Blues dared not enter, the 
Whites dared not come out. 



^T^HE men grew weary of their wild-beast lairs. 
-*■ Sometimes in the night they came forth at any 
risk, and went to dance upon the neighbouring moor; 
else they prayed, in order to kill time. " Every day, " 
says Bourdoiseau, " Jean Chouan made us count our 
rosaries. " 

It was almost impossible to keep those of the Bas- 
Maine from going out for the Fête de la Gerbe when the 
season came. Some of them had ideas peculiar to them- 
selves. " Denys, " says Tranche Montagne, " disguised 
himself as a woman, in order to go to the theatre at 
Laval, then went back into his hole. " Suddenly they 
would rush forth in search of death, exchanging the 
dungeon for the sepulchre. Sometimes they raised tne 
cover of their trench, and listened to hear if there were 
fighting in the distance ; they followed the combat with 
their ears. The firing of the republicans was regular ; 
the firing of the royalists, open and dropping, — this 
guided them. If the platoon-firing ceased suddenly, it 
was a sign that the royalists were defeated ; if the irregu- 
lar firing continued, and retreated toward the horizon, it 
was a sign that they had the advantage. The Whites 
always pursued ; the Blues never, because they had the 
country against them. 

These underground belligerents were kept perfectly 
informed of what was going on. Nothing could be more 


rapid, nothing more mysterious, than their means of 
communication. They had cut all the bridges, broken 
up all the wagons ; yet they found means to tell each 
other everything, to give each other timely warning. 
Kelays of emissaries were established from forest to 
forest, from village to village, from farm to farm, from 
cottage to cottage, from bush to bush. A peasant with 
a stupid air passed by : he carried dispatches in his hol- 
low stick. An ancient constituent, Boétidoux, furnished 
them, to pass from one end of Brittany to the other, 
with republican passports according to the new form, 
with blanks for the names, of which this traitor had 
bundles» It was impossible to discover these emissaries. 
Says Puysaye : " The secrets confided to more than four 
hundred thousand individuals were religiously guarded. " 
It appeared that this quadrilateral — closed on the 
south by the line of the Sables to Thouars, on the east 
by the line of Thouars to Saumur and the river of Thoué, 
on the north by the Loire, and on the west by the ocean 
— possessed everywhere the same nervous activity, and 
not a single point of this soil could stir without shaking 
the whole. In the twinkling of an eye Luçon had in- 
formation in regard to Noirmoutier, and the camp of 
La Loué knew what the camp of Croix -Morineau was 
doing. It seemed as if the very birds of the air carried 
tidings. The 7th Messidor, Year III. , Hoche wrote : 
" One might believe that they have telegraphs. " They 
were in clans, as in Scotland ; each parish had its cap- 
tain. In that war my father fought, and I can speak 
advisedly thereof. 



ni/TANY of them were only armed with pikes. Good 
-LY-*- fowling-pieces were abundant. No marksmen 
could be more expert than the poachers of the Bocage and 
the smugglers of the Loroux. They were strange com- 
bâtants, terrible and intrepid. 

The decree for the levy of three hundred thousand 
men had been the signal for the tocsin to sound in six 
hundred villages. The blaze of the conflagration burst 
forth in all quarters at the same time. Poitou and An- 
jou exploded on one day. Let us add that a premoni- 
tory rumbling had made itself heard on the moor of 
Kerbader upon the 8th of July, 1792, a month before 
the 10th of August. Alain Eedeler, to-day forgotten, 
was the precursor of La Kochejacquelein and Jean 
Chouan. The royalists forced all able-bodied men to 
march under pain of death. They requisitioned har- 
nesses, carts, and provisions. At once Sapinaud had three 
thousand soldiers, Cathelineau ten thousand, Stofflet 
twenty thousand, and Charette was master of Noirmou- 
tier. The Viscount de Scépeaux roused the Haut Anjou ; 
the Chevalier de Dieuzie, the Entre Vilaine et Loire ; 
Tristan l'Hermite, the Bas-Maine ; the barber Gaston, the 
city of Guéménée ; and Abbé Bernier all the rest. 

It needed but little to rouse all those multitudes. In 
the altar of a priest who had taken the oath to the re- 
public — a " priest swearer, " as the people said — was 


placed a great black cat, which sprang suddenly out 
during Mass. " It is the devil ! " cried the peasants, 
and a whole canton rose in revolt. A breath of fire 
issued from the confessionals. In order to attack the 
Blues and to leap the ravines, they had their poles fif- 
teen feet in length, called ferte, an arm available for 
combat and for flight. In the thickest of the frays, 
when the peasants were attacking the republican squares 
if they chanced to meet upon the battle-field a cross* or a 
chapel, all fell upon their knees and said a prayer under 
the enemy's fire; the rosary counted, such as were still 
living sprang up again and rushed upon the foe ! Alas, 
what giants ! They loaded their guns as they ran ; that 
was their peculiar talent. They were made to believe 
whatever their leaders chose. The priests showed them 
other priests whose necks had been reddened by means 
of a cord, and said to them, * These are the guillotined 
who have been brought back to life. " They had their 
spasms of chivalry : they honoured Fesque, a republican 
standard-bearer, who allowed himself to be sabred with- 
out losing hold of his flag. The peasants had a vein of 
mockery : they called the republican and married priests 
" Des sans-calottes devenus sans-culottes ! " (" The un- 
petticoated become the unbreeched. ") 

They began by being afraid of the cannon, then they 
dashed forward with their sticks and took them. They 
captured first a fine bronze cannon, which they baptized 
" The Missionary ; " then another which dated from the 
Koman Catholic wars, upon which were engraved the 
arms of Eichelieu and a head of the Virgin ; this they 
named " Marie Jeanne. " When they lost Fontenay they 
lost Marie Jeanne, about which six hundred peasants 
fell without flinching; then they retook Fontenay in 
order to recover Marie Jeanne : they brought it back be- 
neath a fleur-de-lis embroidered banner, and covered 


with flowers, and forced the women who passed to kiss 
it. But two cannon were a small store. Stofrlet had 
taken Marie Jeanne; Cathelineau, jealous of his success, 
started out of Pin-en-Mange^ assaulted Jallais, and cap- 
tured a third. Forest attacked Saint-Florent and took 
a fourth. Two other captains, Chouppes and Saint Pol, 
did better; they simulated cannon by the trunks of 
trees, gunners by mannikins, and with this artillery, 
about which they laughed heartily, made the Blues re- 
treat to Mareuil. This was their great era. Later, when 
Chalbos routed La Marsonnière, the peasants left behind 
them on the dishonoured field of battle thirty-two can- 
non bearing the arms of England. England at that time 
paid the French princes, and as Nantiat wrote on the 
10th of May, 1794, " sent funds to Monseigneur, because 
Pitt had been told that it was proper so to do. " 

Mellinet, in a report of the 31st of March, said, 
" Long live the English ! " is the cry of the rebels. The 
peasants delayed themselves by pillage. These devotees 
were robbers. Savages have their vices. It is by these 
that civilization captures them later. Puysaye says : 1 " I 
several times preserved the burg of Phélan from pillage. " 
And further on, 2 he recounts how he avoided entering 
Montfort : " I made a circuit in order to prevent the 
plundering of the Jacobins' houses." 

They robbed Cholet ; they sacked Challans. After 
having failed at Granville, they pillaged Ville-Dieu. 
They styled the " Jacobin herd " those of the country 
people who had joined the Blues, and exterminated such 
with more ferocity than other foes. They loved battle 
like soldiers, and massacre like brigands. To shoot the 
" clumsy fellows " — that is, the bourgeois — pleased 
them ; they called that " breaking Lent. " At Fontenay, 
one of their priests, the Curé Barbotin, struck down an 

i Vol. ii. p. 187. 2 ibid., p. 434. 


old man by a sabre stroke. At Saint-Germain -sur-Ille, 
one of their captains, a nobleman, shot the solicitor of 
the commune and took his watch. At Machecoul, for 
five weeks they shot republicans at the rate of thirty a 
day, setting them in a row, which was called " the 
rosary. " Back of the line was a trench, into which 
some of the victims fell alive ; they were buried all the 
same. We have seen a revival of such actions. Jou- 
bert, the President of the district, had his hands sawed 
off. They put sharp handcuffs, forged expressly, on the 
Blues whom they made prisoners. They massacred them 
in the public places, with the hunting cry, " In at the 
death ! " 

Charette, who signed " Fraternity, the Chevalier 
Charette, " and who wore for head-covering a handker- 
chief knotted about his brows after Marat's fashion, 
^urned the city of Pornic, and the inhabitants in their 
houses. During that time Carrier was horrible. Terror 
replied to terror. The Breton insurgent had almost the 
appearance of a Greek rebel, with his short jacket, his 
gun slung over his shoulder, his leggings, and large 
breeches similar to the fustanella. The peasant lad re- 
sembled the klepht. 

Henri de la Eochejacquelein, at the age of one-and- 
twenty, set out for this war armed with a stick and a 
pair of pistols. The Vendean army counted a hundred 
and fifty-four divisions. They undertook regular sieges ; 
they held Bressuire invested for three days. One Good 
Friday ten thousand peasants cannonaded the town of 
Sables with red-hot balls. They succeeded in a single 
day in destroying fourteen republican cantons, from 
Montigné to Courbeveilles. On the high wall of Thouars 
this dialogue was heard between La Eochejacquelein and 
a peasant lad as they stood below : — 

" Charles Ï " 


• Here I am. " 

" Stand so that I can mount on your shoulders. " 

" Jump up. " 

" Your gun. " 

" Take it. " 

And Eochejacquelein leaped into the town, and the 
towers which Duguesclin had besieged were taken with- 
out the aid of ladders. 

They preferred a cartridge to a gold louis. They wept 
when they lost sight of their village belfry. To run 
away seemed perfectly natural to them; at such times 
the leaders would cry : " Throw off your sabots, but keep 
your guns. " When munitions were wanting, they 
counted their rosaries and rushed forth to seize the pow- 
der in the caissons of the republican artillery ; later, 
D'Elbée demanded powder from the English. If they had 
wounded men among them, at the approach of the enemy 
they concealed these in the grain-fields or among the 
ferns, and went back in search of them when the fight 
was ended. They had no uniforms. Their garments 
were torn to bits. Peasants and nobles wrapped them- 
selves in any rags they could find. Eoger Mouliniers 
wore a turban and a pelisse taken from the wardrobe of 
the theatre of La Flèche ; the Chevalier de Beauvilliers 
wore a barrister's gown, and set a woman's bonnet on his 
head over a woollen cap. All wore the white belt and 
a scarf ; different grades were marked by the knots ; 
Stofflet had a red knot ; La Eochejacquelein had a black 
isnot ; Wimpfen, who was half a Girondist, and who for 
that matter never left Normandy, wore the leather jacket 
of the Carabots of Caen. They had women in their 
ranks, — Madame de Lescure, who became Madame de 
la Eochejacquelein; Thérèse de Mollien, the mistress 
of La Eouarie (she who burned the list of the chiefs of 
the parishes) ; Madame de la Eochefoucauld (beautiful, 


young), who, sabre in hand, rallied the peasants at the 
foot of the great tower of the castle of Puy Eousseau ; 
and that Antoinette Adams, styled the Chevalier Adams, 
who was so brave that when captured she was shot 
standing, out of respect for her courage. 

This epic period was a cruel one. Men- were mad. 
Madame de Lescure made her horse tread upon the re- 
publicans stretched on the ground : dead, she averred, 
— only wounded perhaps. Sometimes the men proved 
traitors ; the women never. Mademoiselle Fleury, of 
the Théâtre Français, went from La Eouarie to Marat ; 
but it was for love. The captains were often as ignorant 
as the- soldiers. Monsieur de Sapinaud could not spell ; 
he was at fault in regard to the orthography of the com- 
monest word. There was enmity among the leaders ; 
the captains of the Marais cried, " Down with those of 
the High Country ! " Their cavalry was not numerous, 
and difficult to form. Puysaye writes : " Many a man 
who would cheerfully give me his two sons grows luke- 
warm if I ask for one of his horses. " Poles, pitchforks, 
reaping-hooks, guns, old and new, poachers' knives, 
spits, cudgels bound and studded with iron, — these 
were their arms ; some of them carried slung round them 
crosses made of dead men's bones. They rushed to an 
attack with loud cries, springing up suddenly from 
every quarter, from the woods, the hills, the bushes, the 
hollows of the roads, — killing, exterminating, destroy- 
ing ; then were gone. When they marched through 
a republican town they cut down the liberty pole, set 
it on fire, and danced in circles about it as it burned. 
All their habits were nocturnal. The Yendean rule 
was always to appear unexpectedly. They would march 
fifteen leagues in silence, not so much as stirring a blade 
of grass as they went. When evening came, after the 
chiefs had settled what republican posts should be sur- 


prised on the morrow, the men loaded their guns, mum- 
bled their prayers, pulled off their sabots, and filed in 
long columns through the woods, marching barefoot 
across the heath and moss, without a sound, without a 
word, without a breath. It was like the march of cats 
through the darkness. 



THE Vendée in insurrection did not number less than 
five hundred thousand, counting men, women, and 
children. A half-million of combatants is the sum total 
given by Tuffin de la Eouarie. 

The federalists helped them ; the Vendée had tha 
Gironde for accomplice. La Lozère sent thirty thousand 
men into the Bocage. Eight departments coalesced, — 
five in Brittany, three in Normandy. Evreux, which 
fraternized with Caen, was represented in the rebellion 
by Chaumont its mayor, and Gardembas a man of note. 
Buzot, Gorsas, and Barbaroux at Caen, Brissot at Mou- 
lins, Chassan at Lyons, Rabaut-Saint-Étienne at Nismes, 
Meillen and Duchâtel in Brittany, — • all these mouths 
blew the furnace. 

There were two Vendees, — the great, which carried 
on the war of the forests ; and the little, which waged 
the war of the thickets. It is that shade which sepa- 
rates Charette from Jean Chouan. The little Vendée 
was honest, the great corrupt; the little was much 
better. Charette was made a marquis, lieutenant- 
general of the king's armies, and received the great 
cross of Saint Louis, Jean Chouan remained Jean 
Chouan. Charette borders on the bandit ; Jean Chouan 
on the paladin. 

As to the magnanimous chiefs Bonchamps, Lescure, 
La Eochejacquelein, — they deceived themselves. The 


grand Catholic army was an insane attempt; disastei 
could not fail to follow it. Let any one imagine a tem- 
pest of peasants attacking Paris, a coalition of villages 
besieging the Pantheon, a troop of herdsmen flinging 
themselves upon a host governed by the light of intel- 
lect. Le Mans and Savenay chastised this madness. It 
was impossible for the Vendée to cross the Loire; she 
could do everything except that leap. Civil war does 
not conquer. To pass the Khine establishes a Csesar 
and strengthens a Napoleon ; to cross the Loire killed 
La Eochejacquelein. The real strength of Vendée was 
Vendée at home; there she was invulnerable, uncon- 
querable. The Vendean at home was smuggler, labourer, 
soldier, shepherd, poacher, sharp-shooter, goatherd, bell- 
ringer, peasant, spy. assassin, sacristan, wild beast of 
the wood. 

La Eochejacquelein is only Achilles ; Jean Chouan is 

The rebellion of the Vendée failed. Other revolts have 
succeeded, — that of Switzerland, for example. There 
is this difference between the mountain insurgent like 
the Swiss and the forest insurgent like the Vendean, — 
that almost always the one fights for an ideal, the other 
for a prejudice. The one soars, the other crawls ; the 
one combats for humanity, the other for solitude ; the 
one desires liberty, the other wishes isolation ; the one 
defends the commune, the other the parish, — ■ " Com- 
munes ! Communes ! " cried the heroes of Morat ; the 
one has to deal with precipices, the other with quag- 
mires; the one is the man of torrents and foaming 
streams, the other of stagnant puddles where pestilence 
lurks ; the one has his head in the blue sky, the other 
in the thicket ; the one is on a summit, the other in a 

The education of heights and shallows is very differ- 


ent. The mountain is a citadel ; the forest is an ambus 
cade : one inspires audacity, the other teaches trickery. 
Antiquity placed the gods on heights and the satyrs in 
copses. The satyr is the savage, half man, half brute. 
Free countries have Apennines, Alps, Pyrenees, and 
Olympus. Parnassus is a mountain. Mont Blanc is 
the colossal auxiliary of William Tell. Below and 
above those immense struggles of souls against the night 
which fills the poems of India, the Himalayas may be 
seen. Greece, Spain, Italy, Helvetia have for their 
likeness the mountain ; Cimmeria, Germany, Brittany 
has the wood. The forest is barbarous. 

The configuration of soil decides many of man's ac- 
tions. The earth is more his accomplice than people 
believe. In presence of certain savage landscapes one 
is tempted to exonerate man and criminate creation. 
One feels a certain hidden provocation on the part of 
Nature ; the desert is sometimes unhealthy for the 
conscience, especially for the conscience that is little 
illuminated. Conscience may be a giant. — then she pro- 
duces a Socrates, a Christ ; she may be a dwarf, — then 
she moulds Atreus and Judas. The narrow conscience 
becomes quickly reptile in its instincts : forests where 
twilight reigns; the bushes, the thorns, the marshes 
beneath the branches, — all have a fatal attraction for 
her; she undergoes the mysterious infiltration of evil 
persuasions. Optical illusions, unexplained mirages, 
the terrors of the hour or the scene, throw man into 
this sort of fright, — half religious, half bestial, which 
engenders superstition in ordinary times, and brutality 
at violent epochs. Hallucinations hold the torch which 
lights the road to murder. The brigand is dizzied by a 
vertigo. Nature in her immensity has a double mean- 
ing, which dazzles great minds and blinds savage souls. 
When man is ignorant, when his desert is peopled with 


visions, the obscurity of solitude adds itself to the obsciu 
rity of intelligence; hence come depths in the human 
soul, black and profound as an abyss. Certain rocks, 
certain ravines, certain thickets, certain wild openings 
in the trees through which night looks down, push men 
on to mad and atrocious actions. One might almost 
say that there are places which are the home of the 
spirit of evil. How many tragic sights have been 
watched by the sombre hill between Baignon and Phé- 
lan! Vast horizons lead the soul on to wide, general 
ideas; circumscribed horizons engender narrow, one- 
sided conceptions, which condemn great hearts to be 
little in point of soul. Jean Chouan was an example of 
this truth. Broad ideas are hated by partial ideas; this 
is in fact the struggle of progress. 

Neighbourhood, country, — these two words sum up 
the whole of the Vendean war : a quarrel of the local 
idea against the universal; of the peasant against the 



KITTANY is an ancient rebel. . Each time she re- 
volted during two thousand years 'she was in the 
right ; but the last time she was wrong. Still, at bot- 
tom (against the revolution as against monarchy, against 
the acting Eepresentatives as against governing dukes 
and peers, against the rule of assignats as against the 
sway of excise officers ; whosoever might be the men 
that fought, Nicolas Eapin, François de la Noue, Cap- 
tain Pluviaut, the Lady of La Garnache or Stofflet, 
Coquereau, and Lechandelier de Pierreville ; under De 
"Rohan against the king, and under La Eochejacquelein 
for the king) it was always the same war that Brittany 
waged, — the war of the Local Spirit against the Cen- 
tral. Those ancient provinces were ponds ; that stag- 
nant water could not bear to flow ; the wind which 
swept across did not revivify, — it irritated them. . 
Finistère formed the bounds of France : there the 
space given to man ended, and the march of genera- 
tions stopped. " Halt ! " the ocean cried to the land, to 
barbarism and to civilization. Each time that the cen- 
tre — Paris — gives an impulse, whether that impulse 
come from royalty or republicanism, whether it be in 
the interest of despotism or liberty, it is something new, 
and Brittany bristles up against it. " Leave us in peace ! 
What is it they want of us ? " The Marais seizes the 
pitchfork, the Bocage its carbine. All our attempts, 
our initiative movement in legislation «and in education, 


our encyclopedias, our philosophies, our genius, oui 
glories, all fail before the Houroux; the tocsin of 
Bazouges menaces the French Kevolution, the moor of 
Eaou rises in rebellion against the voice of our towns, 
and the bell of the Haut-des-Prés declares war against 
the Tower of the Louvre. 

Terrible blindness I The Vendean insurrection was 
the result of a fatal misunderstanding. 

A colossal scuffle, a jangling of Titans, an immeasur- 
able rebellion, destined to leave in history only one 
word, — the Vendée, — word illustrious yet dark ; com- 
mitting suicide for the absent, devoted to egotism, pas- 
sing its time in making to cowardice the offer of a 
boundless bravery ; without calculation, without strat- 
egy, without tactics, without plan, without aim, with- 
out chief, without responsibility ; showing to what 
extent Will can be impotent ; chivalric and savage ; 
absurdity at its climax, a building up a barrier of black 
shadows against the light ; ignorance making a long re- 
sistance at once idiotic and superb against justice, right, 
reason, and deliverance ; the terror of eight years, the 
rendering desolate fourteen departments, the devastation 
of fields, the destruction of harvests, the burning of 
villages, the ruin of cities, the pillage of houses, the 
massacre of women and children, the torch in the 
thatch, the sword in the heart, the terror of civilization, 
the hope of Mr. Pitt, — such was this war, the unrea- 
soning effort of the parricide. 

In short, by proving the necessity of perforating in 
every direction the old Breton shadows, and piercing 
this thicket with arrows of light from every quarter at 
once, the Vendée served Progress. The catastrophes had 
their uses. 





THE summer of 1792 had been very rainy ; the sum- 
mer of 1793 was dry and hot. In consequence of 
the civil war, there were no roads left, so to speak, in 
Brittany. Still it was possible to get about, thanks to 
the beauty of the season. Dry fields make an easy 

At the close of a lovely July day, about an hour before 
sunset, a man on horseback, who came from the direction 
of Avranches, drew rein before the little inn called the 
Croix-Branchard, which stood at the entrance of Pontor- 
son, and which for years past had borne this inscription 
on its sign : " Good cider on draught. " It had been warm 
all day, but the wind was beginning now to rise. 

The traveller was enveloped in an ample cloak which 
covered the back of his horse. He wore a broad hat 
with a tricoloured cockade, which was a sufficiently 
bold thing to do in this country of hedges and gunshots, 
where a cockade was a target. The cloak, fastened 
about his neck, was thrown back to leave his arms free, 
and beneath glimpses could be had of a tricoloured sash 
and two pistols thrust in it, A sabre hung down below 
the cloak. 


At the sound of the horse's hoofs the door of the inn 
opened and the landlord appeared, a lantern in his 
hand. It was the intermediate hour between day and 
night : still light along the highway, but dark in the 
house. The host looked at the cockade. 

" Citizen, " said he, " do you stop here ? " 

" No. " 

" Where are you going, then ? " 

" To Dol. " 

" In that case go back to Avranches or remain at 
Pontorson. " 

" Why ? " 

" Because there is fighting at Dol. " 

" Ah ! " said the horseman. 

Then he added, — 

" Give my horse some oats. " 

The host brought the trough, emptied a measure of 
oats into it, and took the bridle off the horse, which 
began to snuff and eat. 

The dialogue continued : — 

" Citizen, has that horse been seized ? " 

" No. " 

" It belongs to you ? " 

" Yes. I bought and paid for it. " 

" Where do you come from ? * 

« Paris. " 

■ Not direct ? " 

■ No. " 

" I should think not' ! The roads are closed, but 
the post runs still. " 

" As far as Alençon. I left it there. " 

" Ah ! Very soon there will be no longer any posts in 
France. There are no more horses. A horse worth 
three hundred livres costs six hundred, and fodder is 
beyond all price. I have been postmaster, and now I 


am keeper of a cookshop. Out of thirteen hundred and 
thirteen postmasters that there used to be, two hundred 
have resigned. Citizen, you travelled according to the 
new tariff?" 

" That of the 1st of May — yes. " 

" Twenty sous a post for a carriage, twelve for a 
gig, five sous for a van. You bought your horse at 
Alençon ? " 

" Yes. " 

" You have ridden all day ? " 

" Since dawn. " 

" And yesterday ? " 

" And the day before. " 

" I can see that. You came by Domfront and 
Mortain. " 

" And Avranches. " 

" Take my advice, citizen ; rest yourself. You must 
be tired. Your horse is certainly. " 

w Horses have a right to be tired ; men have not. " 

The host again fixed his eyes on the traveller, whose 
face was grave, calm, and severe, and framed by grey 

The innkeeper cast a glance along the road, which 
was deserted as far as the eye could reach, and said, — 

* And you travel alone in this fashion ?" 

" I have an escort. " 

■ Where is it ? " 

" My sabre and pistols. " 

The innkeeper brought a bucket of water, and while 
the horse was drinking, studied the traveller, and said 
mentally : " All the same, he has the look of a priest. " 

The horseman resumed : " You say there is fighting 
at Do! ? " 

" Yes. That ought to be about beginning. ■ 

"Who is fighting?" 


" One ci-devant against another ci-devant n 

u You said— " 

" I say that an ex-noble who is for the Kepublic is 
fighting against another ex-noble who is for the king. * 

" But there is no longer a king. " 

" There is the little fellow ! The odd part of the 
business is that these two ci-devants are relations. " 

The horseman listened attentively. The innkeeper 
continued : — 

" One is young, the other old. It is the grand-nephew 
who fights the great-uncle. The uncle is a royalist, the 
nephew a patriot. The uncle commands the Whites, 
the nephew commands the Blues. Ah, they will show 
no quarter, I '11 warrant you. It is a war to the death. * 

" Death ? " 

K Yes, citizen. Hold ! would you like to see the corn 
pliments they fling at each other's heads? Here is a 
notice the old man finds means to placard everywhere, 
on all the houses and all the trees, and that he has had 
stuck up on my very door. " 

The host held up his lantern to a square of paper fas- 
tened on a panel of the double door, and as the placard 
was written in large characters, the traveller could read 
it as he sat on his horse : — 

" The Marquis de Lantenac has the honour of informing his 
grand-nephew, the Viscount Gauvain, that, if the Marquis 
has the good fortune to seize his person, he will cause the 
Viscount to be decently shot." 

" Here, " added the host, " is the reply. " 
He went forward, and threw the light of the lantern 
upon a second placard placed on a level with the first upon 
the other leaf of the door. The traveller read : — 

" Gauvain warns Lantenac that, if he take him, he will 
h^ve him shot." 


* Yesterday, " said the host, " the first placard was 
stuck on my door, and this morning the second. There 
was no waiting for the answer. " 

The traveller in a half-voice, and as if speaking to 
himself, uttered these words, which the innkeeper heard 
without really comprehending, — 

" Yes ; this is more than war in the country ; it is war 
in families. It is necessary, and it is well. The grand 
restoration of the people must be bought at this price. " 

And the traveller raised his hand to his hat and 
saluted the second placard, on which his eyes were still 

The host continued : — 
" So, citizen, you understand how the matter lies. In 
the cities and the large towns we are for the Revolution, 
in the country they are against it ; that is to say, in the 
towns people are Frenchmen, and in the villages they 
are Bretons. It is a war of the townspeople against the 
peasants. They call us clowns, we call them boors. 
The nobles and the priests are with them. " 

" Not all, " interrupted the horseman. 

" Certainly not, citizen, since we have here a viscount 
against a marquis. " 

Then he added to himself : " And I feel sure I am 
speaking to a priest. " 

The horseman continued : " And which of the two has 
the best of it ? " 

The viscount so far. But he has to work hard. The 
old man is a tough one. They belong to the Gauvain 
family, — nobles of these parts. It is a family with two 
branches : there is the great branch, whose chief is called 
the Marquis de Lantenac ; and there is the lesser branch, 
whose head is called the Viscount Gauvain. To-day the 
two branches fight each other. One does not see that 
among trees, but one sees it among men. This Marquis 


de Lantenac is all-powerful in Brittany; the peasants 
consider him a prince. The very day he landed, eight 
thousand men joined him; in a week, three hundred 
parishes had risen. If he had been able to get foothold 
on the coast, the English would have landed. Luckily 
this Gauvain was at hand, — the other's grand-nephew : 
odd chance ! He is the republican commander, and he 
has checkmated his grand-uncle. And then, as good 
luck would have it, when this Lantenac arrived, and 
was massacring a heap of prisoners, he had two women 
shot, one of whom had three children that had been 
adopted by a Paris battalion. And that made a terrible 
battalion; they call themselves the Battalion of the 
Bonnet Eouge. There are not many of those Parisians 
left, but they are furious bayonets. They have been 
incorporated into the division of Commandant Gau- 
vain; nothing can stand against them. They mean to 
avenge the women and retake the children, Nobody 
knows what the old man has done with the little ones : 
that is what enraged the Parisian grenadiers. Suppose 
those babies had not been mixed up in the matter, the 
war would not be what it is. The viscount is a good, 
brave young man ; but the old fellow is a terrible mar- 
quis. The peasants call it the war of Saint Michael 
against Beelzebub. You know, perhaps, that Saint 
Michael is an angel of the district ; there is a mountain 
named after him out in the bay ; they say he overcame 
the demon, and buried him under another mountain 
near here, which is called Tombelaine. " 

" Yes, " murmured the horseman ; " Tumba Beleni, the 
tomb of Belenus, — Belus, Bel, Belial, Beelzebub." 

" I see that you are well informed. " And the host 
again spoke to himself : " He understands Latin ! De- 
cidedly he is a priest. " Then he resumed : " Well, citi- 
zen, for the peasants it is that war beginning over again. 


For them the royalist general is Saint Michael, and 
Beelzebub is the republican commander. But if there 
is a devil, it is certainly Lantenac; and if there is an 
angel, it is Gauvain. You will take nothing, citizen ? " 

" I have my gourd and a bit of bread. But you do 
not tell me what is passing at Dol ! " 

" This. Gauvain commands the exploring column of 
the coast. Lantenac 's aim was to rouse a general in- 
surrection, and sustain Lower Brittany by the aid of 
Lower Normandy, open the door to Pitt, and give a 
shove forward to the Vendean army, with twenty thou- 
sand English, and two hundred thousand peasants. 
Gauvain cut this plan short : he holds the coast, and he 
drives Lantenac into the interior and the English into 
the sea. Lantenac was here, and Gauvain has dislodged 
him ; has taken from him the Pont-au-Beau, has driven 
him out of Avranches, chased him. out of Villedieu, and 
kept him from reaching Granville. He is manoeuvring 
to shut him up again in the forest of Fougères, and to 
surround him. Yesterday everything was going well; 
Gauvain was here with his division. All of a sudden, 
an alarm ! the old man, who is skilful, made a point ; 
information comes that he has marched on Dol. If he 
takes Dol, and establishes a battery on Mount Dol (for 
he has cannon), then there will be a place on the coast 
where the English can land, and everything is lost. 
That is why, as there was not a minute to lose, that 
Gauvain, who is a man with a head, took counsel with 
nobody but himself, asked no orders and waited for 
none, but sounded the signal to saddle, put to his artil- 
lery, collected his troop, drew his sabre, and while 
Lantenac throws himself on Dol, Gauvain throws him- 
self on Lantenac. It is at Dol that these two Breton 
heads will knock together. There will be a fine shock. 
They are at it now. " 


■ How long does it take to get to Dol ? * 

" At least three hours for a troop with cannon ; but 
they are there now. " 

The traveller listened, and said : " In fact, I think .1 
hear cannon. " 

The host listened. " Yes, citizen ; and the musketry. 
They have opened the ball. You would do well to pass 
the night here. There will be nothing good to catch 
over there. " 

" I cannot stop. I must keep on my road. " 

" You are wrong. I do not know your business : but 
the risk is great, and unless it concern what you hold 
dearest in the world — " 

" In truth, it is that which is concerned, " said the 

" Something like your son — " 

" Very nearly that, " said the cavalier. 

The innkeeper raised his head, and said to himself . 
" Still this citizen gives me the impression of being a 
priest. " Then, after a little reflection : " All the same, 
a priest may have children. " 

" Put the bridle back on my horse, " said the traveller. 
* How much do I < we you ? " He paid the man. 

The host set the trough and the bucket back against 
the wall, and returned toward the horseman. " Since 
you are determined to go, listen to my advice. It is 
clear that you are going to Saint Malo. Well, do not 
pass by Dol. There are two roads, — the road by Dol, 
and the road along the sea-shore. There is scarcely any 
difference in their length. The sea-shore road passes by 
Saint-Georges-de-Brehaigne, Cherrueix, and Hirèlle- 
Vivier. You leave Dol to the south and Cancale to the 
north. Citizen, at the end of the street you will find 
the branching off of the two routes ; that of Dol is on 
the left, that of Saint-Georges-de-Brehaigne on the right. 


Listen well to me : if you go by Dol, you will fall into 
the middle of the massacre. That is why you must not 
take to the left, but to the right. " 

" Thanks, " said the traveller. He spurred his horse 
forward. The obscurity was now complete ; he hurried 
on into the night. The innkeeper lost sight of him. 

When the traveller reached the end of the street 
where the two roads branched off, he heard the voice of 
the innkeeper calling to him from afar, — 

" Take the right ! " 

He took the left. 



DOL, a Spanish city of France in Brittany, as the 
guide-books style it, is not a town ; it is a street, 
— a great old Gothic street, bordered all the way on the 
right and the left by houses with pillars, placed irregu- 
larly, so that they form nooks and elbows in the high- 
way, which is nevertheless very wide. The rest of the 
town is only a network of lanes, attaching themselves to 
this great diametrical street, and pouring into it like 
brooks into a river. The city, without gates or walls, 
open, overlooked by Mount Dol, could not have sus- 
tained a siege ; but the street might have sustained one. 
The promontories of houses, which were still to be seen 
fifty years back, and the two-pillared galleries which 
bordered the street, made a battle-ground that was very 
strong and capable of offering great resistance. Each 
house was a fortress in fact, and it would be necessary 
to take them one after another. The old market was 
very nearly in the middle of the street. 

The innkeeper of the Croix-Branchard had spoken 
truly, — a mad conflict filled Dol at the moment he ut- 
tered the words. A nocturnal duel between the Whites, 
that morning arrived, and the Blues, who had come 
upon them in the evening, burst suddenly over the 
town. The forces were unequal : the Whites numbered 
six thousand ; there were only fifteen hundred of the 
Blues. But there was equality in point of obstinate 

dol. 247 

rage ; strange to say, it was the fifteen hundred who had 
attacked the six thousand. 

On one side a mob, on the other a phalanx. On one 
side six thousand peasants, with blessed medals on their 
leather vests, white ribbons on their round hats, Christian 
devices on their braces, chaplets at their belts, carrying 
more pitchforks than sabres, carbines without bayonets, 
dragging cannon with ropes ; badly equipped, ill disci- 
plined, poorly armed, but frantic. In opposition to 
them were fifteen hundred soldiers, wearing three- 
cornered hats, coats with large tails and wide lapels, 
shoulder-belts crossed, copper-hilted swords, and carry- 
ing guns with long bayonets. They were trained, 
skilled ; docile, yet fierce ; obeying like men who would 
know how to command : volunteers also, shoeless and in 
rags too, but volunteers for their country. On the side 
of Monarchy, peasants who were paladins ; for the Revo- 
lution, barefooted heroes, and each troop possessing a 
soul in its leader : the royalists having an old man, the 
republicans a young one. On this side, Lantenac ; on 
the other, Gauvain. 

The Revolution, side by side with its faces of youth, 
ful giants like those of Danton, Saint-Just, and Robes- 
pierre, has faces of ideal youth, like those of Hoche and 
Marceau. Gauvain was one of these. 

He was thirty years old ; he had a Herculean bust, the 
solemn eye of a prophet, and the laugh of a child. He 
did not smoke, he did not drink, he did not swear. He 
carried a dressing-case through the whole war ; he took 
care of his nails, his teeth, and his hair, which was 
dark and luxuriant. During halts he himself shook in 
the wind his military coat, riddled with bullets and 
white with dust. Though always rushing headlong 
into an affray, he had never been wounded. His sin- 
gularly sweet voice had at command the abrupt imperi- 


ousness needed by a leader. He set the example of 

sleeping on the ground, in the wind, the rain, and the 
snow, rolled in his cloak and with his noble head pil- 
lowed on a stone. His was a heroic and innocent soul. 
The sabre in his hand transfigured him. He had that 
effeminate air which in battle turns into something for- 
midable. With all that, a thinker and a philosopher, a 
youthful sage, — Alcibiades in appearance, Socrates in 

In that immense improvisation of the French Kevolu- 
tion this young man had become at once a leader. His 
division, formed by himself, was like a Eoman legion, 
a kind of complete little army. It was composed of 
infantry and cavalry ; it had its scouts, its pioneers, its 
sappers, pontoniers ; and as a Eoman legion had its cata- 
pults, this one had its cannon. Three pieces, well 
mounted, rendered the column strong, while leaving it 
easy to guide. 

Lantenac was also a thorough soldier, — a more con- 
summate one. He was at the same time wary and hardy. 
Old heroes have more cold . determination than young 
ones, because they are far removed from the warmth of 
life's morning; more audacity, because they are near 
death. What have they to lose ? So very little. Hence 
the manœ avres of Lantenac were at once rash and skil- 
ful. But in the main, and almost always, in this 
dogged hand-to-hand conflict between the old man and 
the young, Gauvain gained the advantage. It was 
rather the work of fortune than anything else. All 
good luck — even successes which are in themselves ter- 
rible — go to youth. Victory is somewhat of a woman. 

Lantenac was exasperated against Gauvain, — justly, 
because Gauvain fought against him; in the second 
place, because he was of his kindred. What did he 
mean by turning Jacobin, — this Gauvain, this mis- 

DOL. 249 

chievous dog ! his heir (for the marquis had no chil- 
dren), his grand-nephew, almost his grandson ! " Ah, " 
said this quasi-grandfather, " if I put my hand on him, 
I will kill him like a dog ! " 

For that matter, the Eevolution was right to disquiet 
itself in regard to this Marquis de Lantenac. An earth- 
quake followed his landing. His name spread through 
the Vendean insurrection like a train of powder, and 
Lantenac at once became the centre. In a revolt of that 
nature, where each is jealous of the other, and each has 
his thicket or ravine, the arrival of a superior rallies 
the scattered leaders who have been equals among them- 
selves. Nearly all the forest captains had joined Lante- 
nac, and, whether near or far off, they obeyed him. One 
man alone had departed ; it was the first who had joined 
him, — Gavard. Wherefore ? Because he had been a man 
of trust. Gavard had known all the secrets and adopted 
all the plans of the ancient system of civil war ; Lante- 
nac appeared to replace and supplant him. One does 
not inherit from a man of trust ; the shoe of La Eonain 
did not fit Lantenac. Gavard departed to join Bonchamp. 

Lantenac, as a military man, belonged to the school 
of Frederick II. ; he understood combining the great 
war with the little. He would have neither a " con- 
fused mass " (like the great Catholic and Eoyal army), a 
crowd destined to be crushed, nor a troop of guerillas 
scattered among the hedges and copses, — good to harass, 
impotent to destroy. Guerilla warfare finishes nothing, 
or finishes ill; it begins by attacking a republic and 
ends by rifling a diligence. Lantenac did not compre- 
hend this Breton war as the other chiefs had done, — 
neither as La Eochejacquelin, who was all for open 
country campaigns; nor as Jean Chouan, all for the 
forest. He would have neither Vendée nor Chouan- 
nerie ; he wanted real warfare : he would make use oi 


the peasant, but he meant to depend on the soldier. He 
wanted bands for strategy and regiments for tactics. 
He found these village armies admirable for attack, for 
ambush and surprise, quickly gathered, quickly dis- 
persed ; but he felt that they lacked solidity, — they were 
like water in his hand. He wanted to create a solid 
base in this floating and diffused war; he wanted to join 
to the savage army of the forests regularly drilled troops 
that would make a pivot about which he could manœu- 
vre the peasants. It was a profound and terrible con- 
ception ; if it had succeeded, the Vendée would have 
been unconquerable. 

But where to find regular troops ? Where look for 
soldiers, where seek for regiments, where discover an 
army ready made? In England. Hence Lantenac's ^de- 
termined idea, — to land the English. Thus* the con- 
science of parties compromises with itself. The white 
cockade hid the red uniform from Lantenac's sight. He 
had only one thought, — to get possession of some point 
on the coast, and deliver it up to Pitt. That was why, 
seeing Dol defenceless, he flung himself upon it ; the 
taking of the town would give him Mount Dol, and 
Mount Dol the coast. 

The place was well chosen. The cannon of Mount 
Dol would sweep the Fresnois on one side and Saint- 
Brelade on the other ; would keep the cruisers of Can- 
cale at a distance, and leave the whole beach, from 
Raz-sur-Couesnon to Saint-Mêloir-des-Oudes, clear for 
an invasion. For the carrying out of this decisive at- 
tempt, Lantenac had brought with him only a little 
over six thousand men, the flower of the bands which 
he had at his disposal, and all his artillery, — ten six- 
teen-pound culverins, a demi-culverin, and a four- 
pounder. His idea was to establish a strong battery on 
Mount Dol, upon the principle that a thousand shots 

DOL. 251 

fired from ten cannon do more execution than fifteen 
hundred fired with five. Success appeared certain. They 
were six thousand men. Toward Avranches, they had 
only Gauvain and his fifteen hundred men to fear, and 
Léchelle in the direction of Dinan. It was true that 
Léchelle had twenty-five thousand men, but he was 
twenty leagues away. So Lantenac felt confidence ; on 
Léchelle 's side he put the great distance against the 
great numbers; with Gauvain, the size of the force 
against their propinquity. Let us add that Léchelle 
was an idiot, who later on allowed his twenty-five thou- 
sand men to be exterminated in the landes of the Croix- 
Bataille, — a blunder which he attoned for by suicide. 

So Lantenac felt perfect security. His entrance into 
Dol was sudden and stern. The Marquis de Lantenac 
had a stern reputation; he was known to be without 
pity. No resistance was attempted. The terrified in- 
habitants barricaded themselves in their houses. The 
six thousand Yendeans installed themselves in the town 
with rustic confusion ; it was almost like a fair-ground, 
without quartermasters, without allotted camp, bivouack- 
ing at hazard, cooking in the open air, scattering them- 
selves among the churches, forsaking their guns for their 
rosaries. Lanteuac went in haste with some artillery offi- 
cers to reconnoitre Mount Dol, leaving the command to 
Gouge-le-Bruant, whom he had appointed field-sergeant. 

This Gouge-le-Bruant has left a vague trace in his- 
tory. He had two nicknames, Brise-bleu, on account of 
his massacre of patriots, and Imânus, because he had in 
him a something that was indescribably horrible. Imâ- 
nus, derived from imanis, is an old bas -Norman word 
which expresses superhuman ugliness, something al- 
most divine in its awfulness, — a demon, a satyr, an 
ogre. An ancient manuscript says, " With my two eyes 
I saw Imânus. " The old people of the Bocage no longer 


know to-day who Gouge-le-Bruant was, nor what Brise- 
bleu signifies; but they know, confusedly, Imânus. 
Imânus is mingled with the local superstitions; they 
talk of him still at Trémorel and at Plumaugat, two 
villages where Gouge-le-Bruant has left the trace of his 
sinister course. In the Vendée the others were savages ; 
Gouge-le-Bruant was the barbarian. He was a species 
of cacique, tattooed with Christian crosses and fleur-de- 
lis ; he had on his face the hideous, almost supernatural 
glare of a soul which no other human soul resembled. 
He was infernally brave in combat ; atrocious afterward. 
His was a heart full of tortuous intricacies, capable of 
all forms of devotion, inclined to all madnesses. Did 
he reason ? Yes ; but as serpents crawl, in a twisted 
fashion. He started from heroism to reach murder. It 
was impossible to divine whence his resolves came to 
him ; they were sometimes grand from their very mon- 
strosity. He was capable of every possible unexpected 
horror; his ferocity was epic. Hence his mysterious 
nickname, Imânus. The Marquis de Lantenac had con- 
fidence in his cruelty. It was true that Imânus excelled 
in cruelty, but in strategy and in tactics he was less 
clever, and perhaps the marquis erred in making him 
his field-sergeant. However that might be, be left Ima- 
nus behind him with instructions to replace him and 
look after everything. Gouge-le-Bruant, a man more 
of a fighter than a soldier, was fitter to cut the throats 
of a clan than to guard a town. Still he posted 

When evening came, as the Marquis de Lantenac was 
returning toward Dol, after having decided upon the 
ground for his battery, he suddenly heard the report of 
cannon. He looked forward. A red smoke was rising 
from the principal street. There had been surprise, 
invasion, assault; they were fighting, in the town. Al- 

DOL. 253 

though very difficult to astonish, he was stupefied. He 
had not been prepared for anything of the sort. Who 
could it be ? Evidently it was not Gauvain. No man 
would attack a force that numbered four to his one. 
Was it Léchelle ? But could he have made such a forced 
march ? Léchelle was improbable ; Gauvain impossible. 
Lantenac urged on his horse ; as he rode forward he 
encountered the flying inhabitants ; he questioned them. 
They were mad with terror ; they cried, " The Blues ! 
the Blues ! " When he arrived, the situation was a bad 
one. This is what had happened 



A S we have just seen, the peasants, on arriving at 
/"*■ Dol, dispersed themselves through the town, each 
man following his own fancy, as happens when troops 
* obey from friendship, " a favourite expression with the 
Vendeans, — a species of obedience which makes heroes, 
but not troopers. They thrust the artillery out of the 
way along with the baggage, under the arches of the old 
market-hall. They were weary ; they ate, drank, counted 
their rosaries, and lay down pell-mell across the princi- 
pal street, which was encumbered rather than guarded. 

As night came on, the greater portion fell asleep, 
with their heads on their knapsacks, some having their 
wives beside them, for the peasant women often followed 
their husbands, and the robust ones acted as spies. It 
was a mild July evening ; the constellation glittered in 
the deep purple of the sky. The entire bivouac, which 
resembled rather the halt of a caravan than an army en- 
camped, gave itself up to repose. Suddenly, amid the 
dull gleams of twilight, such as had not yet closed their 
eyes saw three pieces of ordnance pointed at the entrance 
of the street. It was Gauvain's artillery. He had sur- 
prised the main-guard. He was in the town, and his 
column held the top of the street. 

A peasant started up, crying, " Who goes there ? * and 
fired his musket; a cannon-shot replied. Then a furi- 


ous discharge of musketry burst forth. The whole 
drowsy crowd sprang up with a start. A rude shock, 
— to fall asleep under the stars and wake under a volley 
of grape-shot. 

The first moments were terrific. There is nothing so 
tragic as the aimless swarming of a thunderstricken 
crowd. They flung themselves on their arms ; they 
yelled, they ran ; many fell. The assaulted peasants no 
longer knew what they were about, and blindly shot one 
another. The townspeople, stunned with fright, rushed 
in and out of their houses, and wandered frantically 
amid the hubbub, Families shrieked to one another. A 
dismal combat ensued, in which women and children were 
mingled. The bails, as they whistled overhead, streaked 
the darkness with rays of light. A fusilade poured 
from every dark corner. There was nothing but smoke 
and tumult. The entanglement of the baggage-wagons 
and the cannon-carriages was added to the confusion. 
The horses became unmanageable ; the wounded were 
trampled under foot. The groans of the poor wretches, 
helpless on the ground, filled the air. Horror here, 
stupefaction there. Soldiers and officers sought for one 
another. In the midst of all this could be seen crea- 
tures made indifferent to the awful scene by personal 
preoccupations. A woman sat nursing her new-born 
babe, seated on a bit of wall, against which her husband 
leaned with his leg broken; and he, while his blood 
was flowing, tranquilly loaded his rifle and fired at ran- 
dom, straight before him into the darkness. Men lying 
flat on the ground fired across the spokes of the wagon- 
wheels. At moments there rose a hideous din of clam- 
ours, then the great voices of the cannon drowned all. 
It was awful. It was like a felling of trees ; they 
dropped one upon another. Gauvain poured out a deadly 
fire from his ambush, and suffered little loss. 


Still the peasants, courageous amid their disorder 
ended by putting themselves on the defensive ; they 
retreated into the market, — a vast, obscure redoubt, a 
forest of stone pillars. There they again made a stand ; 
anything which resembled a wood gave them confidence. 
Imanus supplied the absence of Lantenac as best he 
could. They had cannon, but to the great astonishment 
of Gauvain they did not make use of it ; that was owing 
to the fact that the artillery officers had gone with the 
marquis to reconnoitre Mount Dol, and the peasants did 
not know how to manage the culverins and demi- 
culverins. But they riddled with balls the Blues who 
cannonaded them ; they replied to the grape-shot by 
volleys of musketry. It was now they who were shel- 
tered. They had heaped together the drays, the tum- 
brels, the casks, all the litter of the old market, and 
improvised a lofty barricade, with openings through 
which they could pass their carbines. From these holes 
their fusilade was murderous. The whole was quickly 
arranged. In a quarter of an hour the market presented 
an impregnable front. 

This became a serious matter for Gauvain. This mar- 
ket suddenly transformed into a citadel was unexpected. 
The peasants were inside it, massed and solid. Gauvain 's 
surprise had succeeded, but he ran the risk of defeat. 
He got down from his saddle. He stood attentively 
studying the darkness, his arms folded, clutching his 
sword in one hand, erect, in the glare of a torch which 
lighted his battery. The gleam, falling on his tall fig- 
ure, made him visible to the men behind the barricade. 
He became an aim for them, but he did not notice it. 
The shower of balls sent out from the barricade fell 
about him as he stood there, lost in thought. But he 
could oppose cannon to all these carbines, and cannon 
always ends by getting the advantage. Victory rests 


with him who has the artillery. His battery, well 
manned, insured him the superiority. 

Suddenly a lightning-flash burst from the shadowy 
market ; there was a sound like a peal of thunder, and 
a ball broke through a house above Gauvain 's head. 
The barricade was replying to the cannon with its own 
voice. What had happened? Something new had oc- 
curred. The artillery was no longer confined to one 
side. A second ball followed the first and buried itself 
in the wall close to Gauvain. A third knocked his hat 
off on the ground. These balls were of a heavy calibre. 
It was a sixteen-pounder that fired. 

* They are aiming at you, commandant, " cried the 

They extinguished the torch. Gauvain, as if in a 
reverie, picked up his hat. Some one had in fact aimed 
at Gauvain : it was Lantenac. The marquis had just 
arrived within the barricade from the opposite side. 
Imânus had hurried to meet him. 

" Monseigneur, we are surprised ! " 

" By whom ? " 

" I do not know. " 

" Is the route to Dinan free ? n 

« I think so. " 

" We must begin a retreat. " 

" It has commenced. A good many have run away. " 

" We must not run ; we must fall back. Why are you 
not making use of this artillery ? " 

" The men lost their heads ; besides, the officers were 
not here. ", 

" I am come. '' 

" Monseigneur, I have sent toward Fougères all I 
could of the baggage, the women, everything useless. 
What is to be done with the three little prisoners ? " 

" Ah. those children ! " 


" Yes. " 

" They are our hostages. Have them taken to La 
Tourgue. " 

This said, the marquis rushed to the barricade. With 
the arrival of the chief the whole face of affairs changed. 
The barricade was ill-constructed for artillery ; there was 
only room for two cannon ; the marquis put in position 
a couple of sixteen-pounders, for which loop-holes were 
made. As he leaned over one of the guns, watching the 
enemy's battery through the opening, he perceived 

" It is he ! " cried the marquis. 

Then he took the swab and rammer himself, loaded 
the piece, sighted it, and fired. Thrice he aimed at 
Gauvain and missed. The third time he only succeeded 
in knocking his hat off. 

" Numbskull ! " muttered Lantenac ; " a little lower, 
and I should have taken his head. " Suddenly the torch 
went out, and he had only darkness before him. " So 
be it ! " said he. Then turning toward the peasant gun- 
ners, he cried : " Now let them have it ! " 

Gauvain, on his side, was not less in earnest. The 
seriousness of the situation increased. A new phase of 
the combat developed itself. The barricade had begun 
to use cannon. Who could tell if it were not about to 
pass from the defensive to the offensive ? He had be- 
fore him, after deducting the killed and fugitives, at 
least five thousand combatants, and he had left only 
twelve hundred serviceable men. What would happen 
to the republicans if the enemy perceived their paucity 
of numbers ? The rôles were reversed. He had been 
the assailant, — he would become the assailed. If the 
barricade were to make a sortie, everything might be 
lost. What was to be done ? He could no longer think 
of attacking the barricade in front ; an attempt at main 


force would be foolhardy : twelve hundred men cannot 
dislodge five thousand. To rush upon them was impos- 
sible ; to wait would be fatal. He must make an end 
But how ? 

Gauvain belonged to the neighbourhood ; he was ac- 
quainted with the town; he knew that the old market - 
house where the Vendeans were intrenched was backed 
by a labyrinth of narrow and crooked streets. He 
turned toward his lieutenant, who was that valiant 
Captain Guéchamp, afterward famous for clearing out 
the forest of Concise, where Jean Chouan was born, and 
for preventing the capture of Bourgneuf by holding the 
dike of La Chaîne against the rebels. 

" Guéchamp, " said he, " I leave you in command. 
Fire as fast as you can. Eiddle the barricade with 
cannon-balls. Keep all those fellows over yonder 
busy. " 

" I understand, " said Guéchamp. 

* Mass the whole column with their guns loaded, and 
hold them ready to make an onslaught. * He added a 
few words in Guéchamp 's ear. 

" I hear, " said Guéchamp. 

Gauvain resumed : " Are all our drummers on foot ? * 

" Yes. " 

" We have nine. Keep two, and give me seven. " 

The seven drummers ranged themselves in silence in 
front of Gauvain. Then he said : " Battalion of the 
Bonnet Bouge ! " 

Twelve men, of whom one was a sergeant, stepped 
out from the main body of the troop. 

" I demand the whole battalion, " said Gauvain. 

" Here it is, " replied the sergeant. 

" You are twelve ! " 

" There are twelve of us left. " 

* It is well, " said Gauvain» 


This sergeant was the good, rough trooper Radoub t 
who had adopted, in the name of the battalion, the 
three children they had encountered in the wood of La 
Saudraie. It will be remembered that only a demi- 
battalion had been exterminated at Herbe-en-Pail, and 
Radoub was fortunate enough not to have been among 
the number. 

There was a forage-wagon standing near; Gauvain 
pointed toward it with his finger. " Sergeant, order 
your men to make some straw ropes and twist them 
about their guns, so that there will be no noise if they 
knock together. " 

A minute passed ; the order was silently executed in 
the darkness. 

" It is done, " said the sergeant. 

" Soldiers, take off your shoes, " commanded Gauvain. 

" We have none, " returned the sergeant. 

They numbered, counting the drummers, nineteen 
men ; Gauvain made the twentieth. He cried : " Follow 
me ! Single file ! The drummers next to me, the bat- 
talion behind them. Sergeant, you will command the 
battalion. " 

He put himself at the head of the column, and while 
the firing on both sides continued, these twenty men, 
gliding along like shadows, plunged into the deserted 
lanes. The line marched thus for some time, twisting 
along the fronts of the houses. The whole town seemed 
dead ; the citizens were hidden in their cellars. Every 
door was barred; every shutter closed; no light to be 
seen anywhere. Amid this silence the principal street 
kept up its din ; the cannonading continued ; the repub- 
lican battery and the royalist barricade spit forth their 
volleys with undiminished fury. 

After twenty minutes of this tortuous march, Gau- 
vain, who kept his way unerringly through the dark- 


ness, reached the end of a lane which led into the broad 
street, but on the other side of the market-house. The 
position was turned. In this direction there was no 
intrenchment, according to the eternal imprudence of 
barricade builders; the market was open, and the en- 
trance free among the pillars where some baggage- 
wagons stood ready to depart. Gauvain and his nineteen 
men had the five thousand Vendeans before them, but 
their backs instead of their faces. 

Gauvain spoke in a low voice to the sergeant; the 
soldiers untwisted the straw from their guns ; the twelve 
grenadiers posted themselves in line behind the angle of 
the lane, and the seven drummers waited with their 
drumsticks lifted. The artillery firing was intermittent. 
Suddenly, in a pause between the discharges, Gauvain 
waved his sword, and cried in a voice which rang like 
a trumpet through the silence : " Two hundred men to 
the right ; two hundred men to the left ; all the rest in 
the centre ! " 

The twelve muskets fired, and the seven drums beat. 

Gauvain uttered the formidable battle-cry of the 
Blues : " To your bayonets ! Down upon them ! " 

The effect was prodigious. This whole peasant mass 
felt itself surprised in the rear, and believed that it had 
a fresh army at its back. At the same instant, on hear- 
ing the drums, the column which Guéchamp commanded 
at the head of the street began to move, sounding the 
charge in its turn, and flung itself at a run on the barri- 
cade. The peasants found themselves between two fires. 
Panic magnifies : a pistol-shot -sounds like the report 
of a cannon : in moments of terror the imagination 
heightens every noise ; the barking of a dog sounds like 
the roar of a lion. Add to this the fact that the peas- 
ant catches fright as easily as thatch catches fire ; and 
as quickly as a blazing thatch becomes a conflagration, 


a panic among peasants becomes a rout. An indescriba* 
bly confused flight ensued. 

In a few instants the market-hall was empty; the 
terrified rustics broke away in all directions ; the officers 
were powerless; Imânus uselessly killed two or three 
fugitives ; nothing was to be heard but the cry, " Save 
yourselves ! " The-* army poured through the streets of 
the town like water through the holes of a sieve, and 
dispersed into the open country with the rapidity of a 
cloud carried along by a whirlwind. Some fled toward 
Châteauneuf, some toward Plerguer, others toward 

The Marquis de Lantenac watched this stampede. He 
spiked the guns with his own hands and then retreated, 
— the last of all, slowly, composedly, saying to himself, 
" Decidedly, the peasants will not stand. We must 
have the English. " 



HPHE victory was complete. Gauvain turned toward 
J- the men of the Bonnet Rouge battalion, and said : 
" You are twelve, but you are equal to a thousand. " 
Praise from a chief was the cross of honour of those 

Guéchamp, dispatched beyond the town by Gauvain, 
pursued the fugitives and captured a great number. 
Torches were lighted and the town was searched. All 
who could not escape surrendered. They illuminated 
the principal street with fire-pots. It was strewn with 
dead and dying. The root of a combat must always be 
torn out; a few desperate groups here and there still 
resisted ; they were surrounded, and threw down their 

Gauvain had remarked, amid the frantic pell-mell of 
the retreat, an intrepid man, a sort of agile and robust 
form, who protected the flight of others, but had not 
himself fled. This peasant had used his gun so ener- 
getically — the barrel for firing, the butt-end for knock- 
ing down — that he had broken it ; now he grasped a 
pistol in one hand and a sabre in the other. No one 
dared approach him. Suddenly Gauvain saw him reel 
and support himself against a pillar of the broad street. 
The man had just been wounded; but he still clutched 
the sabre and pistol in his fists. Gauvain put his 


sword under his arm and went up to him. " Surrender ! * 
said he. 

The man looked steadily at him. The blood ran 
through his clothing from a wound which he had re 
ceived, and made a pool at his feet. 

" You are my prisoner, " added Gauvain, The man 
remained silent. " What is your name ? " 

The man answered, " I am called the Shadow- 
dancer. " 

" Fou are a brave man, " said Gauvain. And he held 
out his hand. 

The man cried, " Long live the king ! " Gathering 
up all his remaining strength, he raised both arms at 
once, fired his pistol at Gauvain's heart, and dealt a blow 
at his head with the sabre. 

He did it with the swiftness of a tiger ; but some one 
else had been still more prompt. This was a man on 
horseback, who had arrived unobserved a few minutes 
before. This man, seeing the Vendean raise the sabre 
and pistol, rushed between him and Gauvain. But for 
this interposition, Gauvain would have been killed. 
The horse received the pistol-shot, the man received the 
sabre-stroke, and both fell. It all happened in the time 
it would have needed to utter a cry. 

The Vendean sank on his side upon the pavement. 
The sabre had struck the man full in the face ; he lay 
senseless on the stones. The horse was killed. 

Gauvain approached. " Who is this man ? " said he. 
He studied him. The blood from the gash inundated 
the wounded man, and spread a red mask over his face. 
It was impossible to distinguish his features, but one 
could see that his hair was grey. " This man has saved 
my life, " continued Gauvain. " Does any one here know 
him ? " 

" Commandant, " said a soldier, " he came into the 


town a few minutes ago. I saw him enter; he came by 
the road from Pontorson. " 

The chief surgeon hurried up with his instrument- 
case. The wounded man was still insensible. The 
surgeon examined him and said : " A simple gash. It 
is nothing. It can be sewed up. In eight days he will 
be on his feet again. It was a beautiful sabre-stroke ! " 

The sufferer wore a cloak, a tricoloured sash, pistols, 
and a sabre. He was laid on a litter. They undressed 
him. A bucket of fresh water was brought : the sur- 
geon washed the cut : the face began to be visible. 
Gauvain studied it with profound attention. 

" Has he any papers on him ? " he asked. 

The surgeon felt in the stranger's side-pocket and drew 
out a pocket-book, which he handed to Gauvain. The 
wounded man, restored by the cold water, began to come 
to himself. His eyelids moved slightly, 

Gauvain examined the pocket-book ; he found in it a 
sheet of paper, folded four times ; he opened this and 
read : — - 

"Committee of Public Safety. The Citizen Cimourdain," 

He uttered a cry : " Cimourdain ! " 

The wounded man opened his eyes at this exclamation. 

Gauvain was astounded. " Cimourdain ! It is you ! 
This is the second time you have saved my life. * 

Cimourdain looked at him. A gleam of ineffable joy 
lighted his bleeding face. 

Gauvain fell on his knees beside him, crying, * My 
master ! " 

" Thy father, " said Cimourdain» 



THEY had not met for many years, but their hearts 
had never been parted ; they recognized each other 
as if they had separated the evening before. 

An ambulance had been improvised in the town-hall 
of Dol. Cimourdain was* placed on a bed in a little 
room next the great common chamber of the other 
wounded. The surgeon sewed up the cut and put an 
end to the demonstrations of affection between the two 
men, judging that Cimourdain ought to be left to sleep. 
Besides, Gauvain was claimed by the thousand occupa- 
tions which are the duties and cares of victory. 

Cimourdain remained alone, but he did not sleep : he 
was consumed by two fevers, — that of his wound and 
that of his joy. He did not sleep, and still it did not 
seem to himself that he was awake. Could it be possi- 
ble that his dream was realized ? Cimourdain had long 
ceased to believe in luck, yet here it was. He had re- 
found Gauvain. He had left him a child, he found him 
a man ; he found him great, formidable, intrepid. He 
found him triumphant, and triumphing for the people. 
Gauvain was the real support of the Eevolution in Ven- 
dée ; and it was he, Cimourdain, who had given this 
tower of strength to the Eepublic. This victor was his 
pupil. The light which he saw illuminating this youth- 
ful face (reserved perhaps for the Eepublican Pantheon) 
was his own thought, — his. Cimourdain 's. His dis- 


ciple — the child of his spirit — was from henceforth a 
hero, and before long would be a glory. It seemed to 
Cimourdain that he saw the apotheosis of his own soul. 
He had just seen how Gauvain made war; he was like 
Chiron, who had watched Achilles light. There was a 
mysterious analogy between the priest and the centaur, 
for the priest is only half man. 

All the chances of this adventure, mingled with the 
sleeplessness caused by his wound, filled Cimourdain 
with a sort of mysterious intoxication. He saw a glori- 
ous youthful destiny rising ; and \jhat added to his pro- 
found joy was the possession of full power over this 
destiny. Another success like that which he had just 
witnessed, and Cimourdain would only need to speak a 
single word to induce the Eepublic to confide an army 
to Gauvain. Nothing dazzles like the astonishment of 
complete victory. It was an era when each man had 
his military dream ; each one wanted to make a general. 
Danton wished to appoint Westermann ; Marat wished 
to appoint Eossignol ; Hébert wished to appoint Eonsin , 
Eobespierre wished to put these all aside. Why not 
Gauvain, asked Cimourdain of himself ; and he dreamed. 
All possibilities were before him : he passed from one 
hypothesis to another ; all obstacles vanished. When a 
man puts his foot on that ladder, he does not stop , it 
is an infinite ascent : one starts from earth and one 
reaches the stars. A great general is only a leader of 
armies , a great captain is at the same time a leader of 
ideas, Cimourdain dreamed of Gauvain as a great cap- 
tain. He seemed to see — for reverie travels swiftly — ■ 
Gauvain on the ocean, chasing the English ; on the Ehine, 
chastising the Northern kings ; on the Pyrenees, repuls- 
ing Spain ; on the Alps, making a signal to Eome to 
rouse itself. There were two men in Cimourdain, — 
one tender, the other stern ; both were satisfied, for the 


inexorable was his ideal ; and at the same time that he 
saw Gauvain noble, he saw him terrible. Cimourdain 
thought of all that it was necessary to destroy before be« 
ginning to build up, and said to himself : " Verily, this 
is no time for tendernesses. Gauvain will be ' up to the 
mark, ' " an expression of the period. Cimourdain pic- 
tured Gauvain spurning the shadows with his foot, with 
a breastplate of light, a meteor-glare on his brow, rising 
on the grand ideal wings of Justice, Eeason, and Pro- 
gress, but with a sword in his hand: an angel, — a de- 
stroyer likewise. 

In the height of this reverie, which was almost an 
ecstasy, he heard through the half-open door a conversa- 
tion in the great hall of the ambulance which was next 
his chamber. He recognized Gauvain 's voice ; through 
all those years of separation that voice had rung ever in 
his ear, and the voice of the man had still a tone of the 
childish voice he had loved. He listened. There was 
a sound of soldiers' footsteps ; one of the men said : — 

" Commandant, this is the man who fired at you. 
While nobody was watching, he dragged himself into a 
cellar. We found him. Here he is. " 

Then Cimourdain heard this dialogue between Gauvain 
and the prisoner : — 

u You are wounded ? " 

" I am well enough to be shot. " 

" Lay that man on a bed. Dress his wounds ; take 
care of him ; cure him. " 

" I wish to die. " 

" You must live. You tried to kill me in the king's 
name ; I show you mercy in the name of the Republic. " 

A shadow passed across Cimourdain 's forehead. He 
was like a man waking up with a start, and he mur- 
mured with a sort of sinister dejection: "In truth, he 
is one of the merciful. " 



A CUT heals quickly ; but there was in a certain place 
a person more seriously wounded than Cimourdain. 
It was the woman who had been shot, whom the beggar 
Tellmarch had picked up out of the great lake of blood 
at the farm of Herbe-en-Pail. 

Michelle Fléchard was even in a more critical situa- 
tion than Tellmarch had believed. There was a wound 
in the shoulder-blade corresponding to the wound above 
the breast; at the same time that the ball broke her 
collar-bone, another ball traversed her shoulder, but, as 
the lungs were not touched, she might recover. Tell- 
march was a " philosopher, " — a peasant phrase which 
means a little of a doctor, a little of a surgeon, and a 
little of a sorcerer. He carried the wounded woman to 
his forest lair, laid her upon his sea-weed bed, and 
treated her by the aid of those mysterious things called 
" simples ; " and thanks to him she lived. The collar- 
bone knitted together, the wounds in the breast and 
shoulder closed ; after a few weeks she was convales- 
cent. One morning she was able to walk out of the 
carnichot, leaning on Tellmarch, and seat herself be- 
neath the trees in the' sunshine. Tellmarch knew little 
about her; wounds in the breast demand silence, and 
during the almost death-like agony which had preceded 
her recovery she had scarcely spoken a word. When 
she tried to speak, Tellmarch stopped her ? but she kept 


up an obstinate reverie; he could see in her eyes the 
sombre going and coming of poignant thoughts. But 
this morning she was quite strong; she could almost 
walk alone ; a cure is a paternity, and Tellmarch watched 
her with delight. The good old man began to smile. 
He said to her: — 

" We are upon our feet again ; we have no more 
wounds. " 

" Except in the heart, * said she. She added, près* 
ently : " Then you have no idea where they are. " 

" Who are ' they ' ? " demanded Tellmarch. 

" My children. " 

This " then " expressed a whole world of thoughts ; it 
signified : " Since you do not talk to me, since you have 
been so many days beside me without opening your 
mouth, since you stop me each time I attempt to break 
the silence, since you seem to fear that I shall speak, it 
is because you have nothing to tell me. " Often in her 
fever, in her wanderings, her delirium, she had called 
her children, and had seen clearly (for delirium makes 
its observations) that the old man did not reply to her. 

The truth was, Tellmarch did not know what to say 
to her. It is not easy to tell a mother that her children 
are lost. And then, what did he know ? Nothing. He 
knew that a mother had been shot; that this mother 
had been found on the ground by himself ; that when he 
had taken her up she was almost a corpse ; that this 
quasi-corpse had three children ; and that Lantenac, 
after having had the mother shot, carried off the little 
ones. All his information ended there. What had be- 
come of the children ? Were they even living ? He 
knew, because he had inquired, that there were two boys 
and a little gir], barely weaned. Nothing more. He 
asked himself a host of questions concerning this unfor- 
tunate group, but could answer none of them. The 


people of the neighbourhood whom he had interrogated 
contented themselves with shaking their heads. The 
Marquis de Lantenac was a man of whom they did not 
willingly talk. They did not willingly talk of De 
Lantenac, and they did not willingly talk to Tellmarch. 
Peasants have a species of suspicion peculiar to them- 
selves. They did not like Tellmarch. Tellmarch the 
Caimand was a puzzling man. Why was he always 
studying the sky ? What was he doing and what was * 
he thinking in his long hours of stillness ? Yes, in- 
deed, he was odd 3 In this district in full warfare, in 
full conflagration, in high tumult; where all men had 
only one business, — devastation ; and one work, — 
carnage ; where whosoever could burned a house, cut 
the throats of a family, massacred an outpost, sacked a 
village ; where nobody thought of anything but laying 
ambushes for one another, drawing one another into 
snares, killing one another, — this solitary, absorbed in 
Nature, as if submerged in the immense peacefulness of 
its beauties, gathering herbs and plants, occupied solely 
with the flowers, the birds, and the stars, was evidently 
a dangerous man. Plainly he was not in possession of 
his reason ; he did not lie in wait behind thickets ; he 
did not fire a shot at any one. Hence he created a cer- 
tain dread about him. " That man is mad, " said the 

Tellmarch was more than an isolated man, — he was 
shunned. People asked him no questions and gave him 
few answers ; so he ha<J not been able to inform himself 
as he could have wished. The war had drifted else- 
where ; the armies had gone to fight farther off; the 
Marquis de Lantenac had disappeared from the horizon, 
and in Tellmarch 's state of mind for him to be conscious 
there was a war it was necessary for it to set its foot oa 


After that cry, " My children, " Tellmarch ceased tc 
smile, and the woman went back to her thoughts. 
What was passing in that soul ? It was as if she looked 
out from the depths of a gulf. Suddenly she turned 
toward Tellmarch, and cried anew, almost with an ac- 
cent of rage : " My children ! " 

Tellmarch drooped his head like one guilty. He was 
thinking of this Marquis de Lantenac, who certainly 
*was not thinking of him, and who probably no longer 
remembered that he existed. He accounted for this to 
himself, saying, " A lord, when he is in danger, he 
knows you ; when he is once out of it, he does not know 
you any longer. " And he asked himself : " But why, 
then, did I save this lord ? " And he answered his own 
question : " Because he was a man. " Thereupon he 
remained thoughtful for some time, then began again 
mentally : " Am I very sure of that ? " He repeated his 
bitter words : " If I had known ! " 

This whole adventure overwhelmed him, for in that 
which he had done he perceived a sort of enigma. He 
meditated dolorously. A good action might sometimes 
be evil. He who saves the wolf kills the sheep. He 
who sets the vulture's wing is responsible for. his talons. 
He felt himself in truth guilty. The unreasoning anger 
of this mother was just. Still, to have saved her con- 
soled him for having saved the marquis. But the 
children ? 

The mother meditated also. The reflections of these 
two went on side by side ; and, perhaps, though without 
speech, met one another amid the shadows of reverie. 
The woman's eyes, with a night-like gloom in their 
depths, fixed themselves anew on Tellmarch. " Neverthe- 
less, that cannot be allowed to pass in this way, " said she 

" Hush ! " returned Tellmarch, laying his finger od 
his lips. 


She continued : " Yon did wrong to save me, and I am 
angry with you for it. I would rather be dead, because 
I am sure I should see them then. I should know where 
they are. They would not see me, but I should be near 
them. The dead,— they ought to have power to protect. " 

He took her arm and felt her pulse. " Calm yourself : 
you are bringing back your fever. " 

Sfie asked him almost harshly, " When can I go away 
from here ? " 

" Go away ? " 

■ Yes. Walk. " 

" Never, if you are not reasonable. To-morrow, if 
you are wise. " 

" What do you call being wise ? n 

" Having confidence in God. " 

" God ! What has he done with my children ? " Her 
mind seemed wandering. Her voice became very sweet. 
" You understand, " she said to him, " I cannot rest like 
this. You have never had any children, but I have. 
That makes a difference. One cannot judge of a thing 
when one does not know what it is. You never had 
any children, had you ? " 

" No, " replied Tellmarch. 

" And I — I had nothing besides them. What am I 
without my children ? I should like to have somebody 
explain to me why I have not my children. I feel that 
things happen, but I do not understand. They killed 
my husband ; they shot me : all the same, I do .not 
understand it. " 

"Come," said Tellmarch, "there is the fever taking 
fou again. Do not talk any more. " 

She looked at him and relapsed into silence. From 
this day she spoke no more. Tellmarch was obeyed 
more absolutely than he liked. She spent long hours 
of stupefaction, crouched at the foot of an old tree. She 


dreamed, and held her peace. Silence makes an impene* 
trable refuge for simple souls that have been down into 
the innermost depths of suffering. She seemed to re- 
linquish all effort to understand. To a certain extent 
despair is unintelligible to the despairing. 

Tellmarch studied her with sympathetic interest. In 
presence of this anguish the old man had thoughts such 
as might have come to a woman. " Oh, yes, " he said to 
himself, " her lips do not speak, but her eyes talk. I 
know well what is the matter, — what her one idea is. 
To have been a mother, and to be one no longer ! To 
have been a nurse, and to be so no more ! She cannot re- 
sign herself. She thinks about the tiniest child of all, 
that she was nursing not long ago. She thinks of it; 
thinks, thinks. In truth, it must be so sweet to feel a 
little rosy mouth that draws your very soul out of your 
body, and who, with the life that is yours, makes a life 
for itself. " He kept silence on his side, comprehending 
the impotency of speech in face of an absorption like 
this. The persistence of an all-absorbing idea is terrible. 
And how to make a mother thus beset hear reason? 
Maternity is inexplicable; you cannot argue with it. 
That it is which renders a mother sublime ; she becomes 
unreasoning ; the maternal instinct is divinely animal. 
The mother is no longer a woman, she is a wild creature ; 
her children are her cubs. Hence in the mother there 
is something at once inferior and superior to -argument. 
A mother has an unerring instinct. The immense mys- 
terious Will of creation is within her and guides her. 
Hers is a blindness superhumanly enlightened. 

Now Tellmarch desired to make this unhappy creature 
speak ; he did not succeed. On one occasion he said to 
her: " As ill-luck will have it, I am old, and I cannot 
walk any longer. At the end of a quarter of an hour 
my strength is exhausted, and I am obliged to rest : if 


it were not for that I would accompany you. After all, 
perhaps it is fortunate that I cannot. I should be rather 
a burden than useful to you. I am tolerated here ; but 
the Blues are suspicious of me, as being a peasant ; and 
the peasants suspect me of being a wizard. " 

He waited for her to reply. She did not even raise her 
eyes. A fixed idea ends in madness or heroism. But of 
what heroism is a poor peasant woman capable ? None. 
She can be a mother, and that is all. Each day she 
buried herself deeper in her reverie. Tellmarch watched 
her. He tried to give her occupation ; he brought her 
needles and thread and a thimble ; and at length, to the 
satisfaction of the poor Caimand, she began some sewing. 
She dreamed, but she worked, — a sign of health ; her 
energy was returning little by little. She mended her 
linen, her garments, her shoes ; but her eyes looked cold 
and glassy as ever. As she bent over her needle, she 
sang unearthly melodies in a low voice. She murmured 
names, — probably the names of children, — but not dis- 
tinctly enough for Tellmarch to catch them. She would 
break off abruptly and listen to the birds, as if she 
thought they might have brought her tidings. She 
watched the weather. Her lips would move, — she was 
speaking low to herself. She made a bag and filled it 
with chestnuts. One morning Tellmarch saw her pre- 
paring to set forth, her eyes gazing away into the depths 
of the forest. 

" Where are you going ? " he asked. 

She replied, " I am going to look for them. v 

He did not attempt to detain her. 



AT the end of a few weeks, which had been filled 
with the vicissitudes of civil war, the district of 
Fougères could talk of nothing but the two men who 
were opposed to each other, and yet were occupied in 
the same work ; that is, fighting side by side the great 
revolutionary combat. 

The savage Vendean duel continued, but the Vendée 
was losing ground. In Ille-et-Vilaine in particular, 
thanks to the young commander who had at Dol so 
opportunely replied to the audacity of six thousand 
royalists by the audacity of fifteen hundred patriots, 
the insurrection, if not quelled, was at least greatly 
weakened and circumscribed. Several lucky hits had 
followed that one, and out of these successes had grown 
a new position of affairs. Matters had changed their 
face, but a singular complication had arisen. 

In all this portion of the Vendée the Eepublic had 
the upper hand, — that was beyond a doubt. But which 
republic ? In the triumph which was opening out, two 
forms of republic made themselves felt, — the republic 
of terror, and the republic of clemency ; the one desirous 
to conquer by rigour, and the other by mildness. Which 
would prevail ? These two forms — the conciliating and 
the implacable — were represented by two men, each of 
whom possessed his special influence and authority : the 
one a military commander, the other a civil delegate. 
Which of them would prevail? 


One of the two, the delegate, had a formidable basis 
of support; he had arrived bearing the threatening 
watchword of the Paris 'Commune to the battalions of 
San terre : " No mercy ; no quarter ! " He had, in order 
to put everything under his control, the decree of the 
Convention, ordaining " death to whomsoever should set 
at liberty and help a captive rebel chief to escape. " He 
had full powers, emanating from the Committee of Pub- 
lic Safety, and an injunction commanding obedience to 
him as delegate, signed Robespierre, Danton, Marat. 
The other, the soldier, had on his side only this strength, 
> — pity. He had only his own arm, which chastised 
the enemy ; and his heart, which pardoned them. A 
conqueror, he believed that he had the right to spare the 

Hence arose a conflict, hidden but deep, between these 
two men. The two stood in different atmospheres ; both 
combating the rebellion, and each having his own thun- 
derbolt, — that of the one, victory ; that of the other, 

Throughout all the Bocage nothing was talked of but 
them ; and what added to the anxiety of those who 
watched them from every quarter was the fact that these 
two men so diametrically opposed were at the same time 
closely united. These two antagonists were friends. 
Never sympathy loftier and more profound joined two 
hearts ; the stern had saved the life of th>° clement, and 
bore on his face the wound received in the effort. These 
two men were the incarnation, — the one of life, the 
other of death ; the one was the principle of destruction, 
the other of peace, and they loved each other. Strange 
problem ! Imagine Orestes merciful and Pylades piti- 
less. Picture Arimanes the brother of Ormus ! 

Let us add that the one of the pair who was called 
* the ferocious " was, at the same time, the most broth- 


erly of men. He dressed the wounded, cared for the 
sick, passed his days and nights in the ambulance and 
hospitals, was touched by the sight of barefooted children, 
had nothing for himself, gave all to the poor. He was 
present at all the battles ; he marched at the head of the 
columns and in the thickest of the fight, armed, — for 
he had in his belt a sabre and two pistols, — yet dis- 
armed, because no one had ever seen him draw his sabre 
or touch his pistols. He faced blows, and did not return 
them. It was said that he had been a priest. 

One of these men was Gauvain ; the other was 
Cimourdain. There was friendship between the two 
men, but hatred between the two principles ; this hid- 
den war could not fail to burst forth. One morning the 
battle began. 

Cimourdain said to Gauvain : " What have we accom- 
plished ? " 

Gauvain replied : " You know as well as I. I have 
dispersed Lantenac's bands. He has only a few men 
left. Then he is driven back to the forest of Fougères. 
In eight days he will be surrounded. " 

" And in fifteen days ? " 

" He will be taken. " 

■ And then ? " 

" You have read my notice ? * 

" Yes. Well ? " 

" He will be shot. " 

" More clemency ! He must be guillotined. * 

" As for me, " said Gauvain, " I am for a military 
death. " 

" And I, " relied Cimourdain, " for a revolutionary 
death. " He looked Gauvain in the face, and added : 
" Why did you set at liberty those nuns of the convent 
of Saint Marc-le -Blanc ? " 

" I do not make war on women. " answered Gauvain. 


> * Those women hate the people ; and where hate is 
concerned, one woman outweighs ten men. Why did 
you refuse to send to the revolutionary tribunal all that 
herd of old fanatical priests who were taken at Louvigné X " 

" I do not make war on old men. " 

" An old priest is worse than a young one. Kebellion 
is more dangerous preached by white hairs. Men have 
faith in wrinkles. No false pity, Gauvain ! The regi- 
cides are liberators. Keep your eye fixed on the tower 
of the Temple. * 

" The Temple tower ! I would bring the Dauphin out 
of it. I do not make war on children. " 

Cimourdain's eyes grew stern. " Gauvain, learn that 
it is necessary to make war on a woman when she calls 
herself Marie Antoinette, on an old man when he is 
named Pius VI. and Pope, and upon a child when he 
is named Louis Capet " 

" My master, I am not a politician. " 

" Try not to be a dangerous man. Why, at the attack 
on the post of Cossé, when the rebel Jean Treton, driven 
back and lost, flung himself alone, sabre in hand, 
against the whole column, didst thou cry, ' Open the 
ranks ! Let him pass ' ? " 

* Because one does not set fifteen hundred to kill a 
single man. " 

" Why, at the Cailleterie d'Astillé, when you saw 
your soldiers about to kill the Vendean Joseph Bézier, 
who was wounded and dragging himself along, did you 
exclaim, ' Go on before ! This is my affair ! ' and then 
fire your pistol in the air ? " 

" Because one does not kill a man on the ground. " 

" And you were wrong. Both are to-day chiefs of 
bands. Joseph Be^ier is Mustache, and Jean Treton is 
Jambe d'Argent. In saving those two men you gave 
two enemies to the Kepublic. " 


" Certainly I could wish to give her friends, and nofc 
enemies. " 

" Why, after the victory of Landéan, did you not 
shoot your three hundred peasant prisoners ? " 

" Because Bonchamp had shown mercy to the repub- 
lican prisoners, and I wanted it said that the Bepublic 
showed mercy to the royalist prisoners. " 

" But, then, if you take Lantenac you will pardon 
him ? " 

" No. * 

" Why ? Since you showed mercy to the three hun- 
dred peasants ? " 

" The peasants are ignorant men ; Lantenac knows 
what he does. " 

" But Lantenac is your kinsman. " 

" France is the nearest. " 

" Lantenac is an old man. " 

" Lantenac is a stranger. Lantenac has no age. Lan- 
tenac summons the English. Lantenac is invasion. 
Lantenac is the enemy of the country. The duel be- 
tween him and me can only finish by his death or 
mine. " 

" Gauvain, remember this vow, " 

" It is sworn. " 

There was silence, and the two looked at each other. 

Then Gauvain resumed : " It will be a bloody date, 
this year '93 in which we live. " 

" Take care ! " cried Cimourdain. " Terrible duties 
exist. Do not accuse that which is not accusable. 
Since when is it that the illness is the fault of the phy- 
sician ? Yes, the characteristic of this tremendous year 
is its pitilessness. Why ? Because it is the grand revo- 
lutionary year. This year in which we live is the in- 
carnation of the Bevolution. The Bevolution has an 
enemy, — the old world, — and it is without pity for it; 


ju3t as the surgeon has an enemy, — gangrene, — and is 
without pity for it. The Eevolution extirpates royalty 
in the king, aristocracy in the noble, despotism in the 
soldier, superstition in the priest, barbarism in the 
judge ; in a word, everything which is tyranny, in all 
which is the tyrant. The operation is fearful ; the 
Eevolution performs it with a sure hand. As to the 
amount of sound flesh which it sacrifices, demand of 
Boerhaave what he thinks in regard to that. What 
tumour does not cause a loss of blood in its cutting 
away ? Does not the extinguishing of a conflagration 
demand an energy as fierce as that of the fire itself ? 
These formidable necessities are the very condition of 
success. A surgeon resembles a butcher ; a healer may 
have the appearance of an executioner. The Eevolution 
devotes itself to its fatal work. It mutilates, but it 
saves. What ! you demand pity for the virus ? You 
wish it to be merciful to that which is poisonous ? It 
will not listen. It holds the post, — it will extermi- 
nate it. It makes a deep wound in civilization, from 
whence will spring health to the human race. You 
suffer? Without doubt. How long will it last? The 
time necessary for the operation. After that you will 
live. The Eevolution amputates the world. Hence this 
haemorrhage, — '93. " 

" The surgeon is calm, " said Gauvain, " and the men 
that I see are violent. " 

" The Eevolution, " replied Cimourdain, " needs savage 
workmen to aid it! It pushes aside every hand that 
trembles. It has only faith in the inexorables. Danton 
is the terrible -, Eobespierre is the inflexible ; Saint- Just 
is the immovable, Marat is the implacable. Take care, 
Gauvain ! these names are necessary. They are worth 
as much as armies to us ; they will terrify Europe. " 

u And perhaps the future also, n said Gauvain. He 


checked himself, and resumed : " For that matter, my 
master, you err. I accuse no one. According to me, 
the true point of view of the Eevolution is its irrespon- 
sibility. Nobody is innocent, nobody is guilty. Louis 
XVI. is a sheep thrown among lions : he wishes to 
escape, he tries to flee, he seeks to defend himself ; he 
would bite if he could. But one is not a lion at will ; 
his craze to be one passes for crime. This enraged 
sheep shows his teeth : ' The traitor ! ' cry the* lions ; and 
they eat him. That done, they fight among themselves. " 

" The sheep is a brute. " 

" And the lions, what are they ? " 

This retort set Cimourdain thinking. He raised his 
head, and answered : " These lions are consciences. 
These lions are ideas. These lions are principles, " 

" They produce the reign of Terror. " 

" One day, the Eevolution will be the justification of 
this Terror. " 

" Beware lest the Terror become the calumny of the 
Eevolution. " Gauvain continued : " Liberty, Equality, 
Fraternity, — these are the dogmas of peace and harmony. 
Why give them an alarming at-pect? What is it we 
want ? To bring the peoples to a universal republic. 
Well, do not let us make them afraid. What can in- 
timidation serve ? The people can no more be attracted 
by a scarecrow than birds can. One must not do evil to 
bring about good; one does not overturn the throne in 
order to leave the gibbet standing. Death to kings, and 
life to nations ! Strike off the crowns ; spare the heads ! 
The Eevolution is concord, not fright. Clement ideas 
are ill served by cruel men. Amnesty is to me the 
most beautiful word in human language. I will only 
shed blood in risking my own. Besides, I simply know 
how to fight ; I am nothing but a soldier. But if I may 
not pardon, victory is not worth the trouble it costs. 


During battle let us be the enemies of our enemies, and 
after the victory their brothers. " 

" Take care ! " repeated Cimourdain, for the third 
time. " Gauvain, you are more to me than a son ; take 
care ! " Then he added thoughtfully : " In a period like 
ours, pity may become one of the forms of treason. " 

Any one listening to the talk of these two men might 
have fancied he heard a dialogue between the sword and 
the axe. 



IN the mean while the mother was seeking her little 
ones. She went straight forward. How did she 
live ? It is impossible to say ; she did not know her- 
self. She walked day and night, she begged, she ate 
herbs, she lay on the ground , she slept in the open 
air, in the thickets, under the stars, sometimes in the 
rain and wind. She wandered from village to village, 
from farm to farm, seeking a clew. She stopped on the 
thresholds of the peasants' cots. Her dress was in rags. 
Sometimes she was welcomed, sometimes she was driven 
away ; when she could not get into the houses, she went 
into the woods. She did not know the district; she 
was ignorant of everything except Siscoignard and the 
parish of Aze\ She had no route marked out; she re- 
traced her steps, travelled roads already gone over, made 
useless journeys ; sometimes she followed the highway, 
sometimes a cart-track, as often the paths among the 
copses. In these aimless wanderings she had worn out 
her miserable garments ; she had shoes at first, then she 
walked barefoot, then with her feet bleeding. She crossed 
the track of warfare, among gun-shots, hearing, nothing, 
seeing nothing, avoiding nothing, — seeking her chil- 
dren. Eevolt was everywhere ; there were no more gen- 
darmes, no more mayors, no authorities of any sort. 
She had only to deal with chance passers. She spoke 
to them, she asked, — 


" Have you seen three little children anywhere ? * 

Those she addressed would look at her. 

" Two boys and a girl, " she would say. Then she 
would name them : " Kené-Jean, Gros-Alain, Georgette. 
You have not seen them ? " 

, She would ramble on thus : " The eldest is four years 
and a half old ; the little girl is twenty months. " Then 
would come the cry : " Do you know where they are ? 
They have been taken from me. " 

The listeners would stare at her, and that was all. 

When she saw that she was not understood, she would 
say : " It is because they belong to me, — that is why. " 

The people would pass on their way. Then she would 
stand still, uttering no further word, but digging at her 
breast with her nails. 

However, one day, a peasant listened to her. The 
good man set himself to thinking. " Wait, now, " said 
he. " Three children ? " 

" Yes. "■ 

" Two boys — " 

" And a girl. " 

" You are hunting for them ? " 

" Yes. " 

* I have heard talk of a lord who had taken three 
little children, and had them with him. " 

'' Where is this man ? " she cried. " Where are they ? * 

The peasant replied : " Go to La Tourgue. * 

"Shall I find my children there ? M 

" It may easily be. * 

« You say— » 

" La Tourgue. " 

" What is that, — La Tourgue ? " 

" It is a place. " 

" Is it a village, a castle, a farm I * 

" I never was there. n 


* Is it far ? " 

" It is not near. " 

il In which direction ? " 

" Toward Fougères. " 

" Which way must I go ? " 

* You are at Ventortes, " said the peasant ; " you must 
leave Ernée to the left and Coxelles to the right ; you 
will pass by Lorchamps and cross the Leroux. " He 
pointed his finger to the west. " Always straight before 
you and toward the sunset. " 

Ere. the peasant had dropped his arm, she was hurry- 
ing on. 

He cried after her : " But take care. They are fight- 
ing over there. " 

She did not answer or turn round; on she went 
straight before her. 



1. La Tourgue. 

FOETY years ago, a traveller who entered the forest 
of Fougères from the side of Laignelet, and left it 
toward Parignë, was met on the border of this vast old 
wood by a sinister spectacle. As he came out of the 
thickets, La Tourgue rose abruptly before him. Not La 
Tourgue living, but La Tourgue dead, — La Tourgue 
cracked, battered, seamed, dismantled. 

The ruin of an edifice is as much its ghost as a phan- 
tom is that of man. No more lugubrious vision could 
strike the gaze than that of La Tourgue. What the 
traveller had before his eyes was a lofty round tower, 
standing alone at the corner of the wood like a malefac- 
tor. This tower, rising from a perpendicular rock, was 
so severe and solid that it looked almost like a bit of 
Eoman architecture, and the frowning mass gave the 
idea of strength even amid its ruin. It was Eoman 
in a way, since it was Eomanic. Begun in the ninth 
century, it had been finished in the twelfth, after the 
third Crusade. The peculiar ornaments of the mould- 
ings told its age. On ascending the height, one per- 
ceived a breach in the wall ; if one ventured to enter, he 
found himself within the tower, — it was empty. It 
resembled somewhat the inside of a stone trumpet set 
upright on the ground, - — from top to bottom no parti- 
tions, no ceilings, no floors. There were places where 


arches and chimneys had been torn away; falconet 
embrasures were seen ; at different heights, rows of 
granite corbels and a few transverse beams marked where 
the different stories had been : these beams were covered 
with the ordure of night-birds. The colossal wall was 
fifteen feet in thickness at the base and twelve at the 
summit ; here and there were chinks and holes which 
had been doors, through which one caught glimpses of 
staircases in the shadowy interior of the wall. The 
passer-by who penetrated there at evening heard the cry 
of the wood-owl, the goat-suckers, and the bats, and 
saw beneath his feet brambles, stones, reptiles, and 
above his head, across a black circle which looked like 
the mouth of an enormous well, he could perceive the 

The neighbourhood kept a tradition that in the upper 
stories of this tower there were secret doors formed like 
those in the tombs of the kings of Judah, of great stones 
turning on pivots, opening by a spring, and forming 
part of the wall when closed, — an architectural mystery 
which the Crrsaders had brought from the East along 
with the pointed arch. When these doors were shut, 
it was impossible to discover them, so accurately were 
they fitted into the other stones. At this day such 
doors may still be seen in those mysterious cities of the 
Anti-Libanus which escaped the burial of the twelve 
towns in the time of Tiberius. 

2. The Breach. 

The breach by which one entered the ruin had been 
the opening of a mine. For a connoisseur, familiar 
with Errard, Sardi, and Pagan, this mine had been skil- 
fully planned. The fire-chamber, shaped like a mitre, 
was proportioned to the strength of the keep it had been 


intended to disembowel ; it must have held at least two 
hundredweight of powder. The channel was serpentine, 
which does better service than a straight one. The 
crumbling of the mine left naked among the broken 
stones the saucisse which had the requisite diameter, 
that of a hen's egg. The explosion had left a deep rent 
in the wall by which the besiegers could enter. 

This tower had evidently sustained at different periods 
real sieges conducted according to rule. It was scarred 
with balls, and these balls were not all of the same 
epoch. Each projectile has its peculiar way of marking 
a rampart ; and those of every sort had left their traces 
on this keep, from the stone balls of the fourteenth cen- 
tury to the iron ones of the eighteenth. The breach 
gave admittance into what must have been the ground- 
floor. In the wall of the tower opposite the breach there 
opened the gateway of a crypt cut in the rock, and 
stretching among the foundations of the tower under the 
whole extent of the ground-floor hall. This crypt, three 
fourths filled up, was cleared out in 1855 under the 
direction of Monsieur Auguste le Prévost, the antiquary 
of Bernay. 

3. The Oubliette. 

This crypt was the oubliette. Every keep had one. 
This crypt, like many penal prisons of that era, had two 
stories. The upper floor, which was entered by the 
wicket, was a vaulted ' chamber of considerable size, on 
a level with the ground-floor hall. ' On the walls could 
be seen two parallel and vertical furrows, extending 
from one side to the other, and passing along the vault 
of the roof, in which they had left deep ruts like old 
wheel-tracks. It was what they were in fact; these 
two furrows had been hollowed by two wheels. For- 


merly, in feudal days, victims were torn limb from limb 
in this chamber by a method less noisy than dragging 
them at the tails of horses. There had been two wheels, 
so immense that they touched the walls and an arch. 
To each of these wheels an arm and a leg of the victim 
were attached ; then the wheels were turned in the in- 
verse direction, which crushed the man. It required 
great force ; hence the furrows which the wheels had 
worn in the wall as they grazed it. A chamber of this 
kind may still be seen at Yianden. 

Below this room there was another. That was the 
real dungeon. It was not entered by a door ; one pene- 
trated into it by a hole. The victim, stripped naked, 
was let down by means of a rope placed under his arm- 
pits into the dungeon, through an opening left in the 
centre of the flagging of the upper chamber. If he per- 
sisted in living, food was flung to him through this 
aperture. A hole of this sort may yet be seen at Bouil- 
lon. The wind swept up through this opening. 

The lower room, dug out beneath the ground-floor 
hall, was a well rather than a chamber. It had water 
at the bottom, and an icy wind filled it. This wind, 
which killed the prisoner in the depths, preserved the 
life of the captive in the room above ; it rendered his 
prison respirable. The captive above, groping about 
beneath his vault, only got air by this hole. For the 
rest, whatever entered or fell there could not get out 
again. It was for the prisoner to be cautious in the 
darkness. A false step might make the prisoner in the 
upper room a prisoner in the dungeon below. That was 
his affair. If he clung to life, this hole was a peril ; if 
he wished to be rid of it, this hole was his resource. 
The upper floor was the dungeon ; the lower, the tomb, 
a superposition which resembled society at that period. 
It was what our ancestors called a moat-dungeon. The 


thing having disappeared, the name has no longer any 
significance in our ears. Thanks to the Eevolution, we 
hear the words pronounced with indifference. 

Outside the tower, above the breach, which forty 
years since was the only means of ingress, might be 
seen an opening larger than the other loophole, from 
which hung an iron grating bent and loosened. 

4. The Bridge- Castle. 

On the opposite side from the breach a stone bridge 
was connected with the tower, having three arches still 
in almost perfect preservation. This bridge had sup- 
ported a building of which some fragments remained. 
It had evidently been destroyed by fire ; there were left 
only portions of the framework, between whose black- 
ened ribs the daylight peeped, as it rose beside the 
tower like a skeleton beside a phantom. This ruin is to- 
day completely demolished, — not a trace of it is left. It 
only needs one day and a single peasant to destroy that 
which it took many centuries and many kings to build. 

La Tourgue is a rustic abbreviation for La Tour- 
Gauvain, just as La Jupelle stands for La Jupellière, 
and Pinson-le-Tort, the nickname of a hunchbacked 
leader, is put for Pinson-le-Tortu. La Tourgue, which 
forty years since was a ruin, and which is to-day a 
shadow, was a fortress in 1793. It was the old bastile 
of the Gauvains ; toward the west guarding the entrance 
to the forest of Fougères, — a forest which is itself now 
hardly a grove. This citadel had been built on one of 
the great blocks of slate which abound between Mayenne 
and Dinan, scattered everywhere among the thickets and 
heaths, like missiles that had been flung in some conflict 
between Titans. The tower made up the entire fortress ; 
beneath the tower was the rock, and at the foot of the 


rock one of those water-courses which the month of 
January turns into a torrent, and which the month of 
June dries up. 

Thus protected, this fortress was in the Middle A»es 
almost impregnable. The bridge alone weakened it. 
The Gothic Gauvains had built without bridge. They 
got into it by one of those swinging foot-bridges which 
a blow of an axe sufficed to break away. As long as the 
Gauvains remained viscounts they contented themselves 
with this; but when they became marquises and left 
the cavern for the court, they flung three arches across 
the torrent, and made themselves accessible on the side 
of the plain just as they had made themselves accessible 
to the king. The marquises of the seventeenth century 
and the marquises of the eighteenth no longer wished to 
be impregnable. An imitation of Versailles replaced 
the traditions of their ancestors. 

Facing the tower, on the western side, was a high 
plateau which ended in two plains ; this plateau almost 
touched the tower, only separated from it by a very deep 
ravine, through which ran the water-course, which was 
a tributary of the Couesnon. The bridge which joined 
the fortress and the plateau was built up high on piers ; 
and on these piers was constructed, as at Chenonceaux, 
an edifice in the Mansard style, more habitable than the 
tower. But customs were still very rude ; the lords 
continued to occupy chambers in the keep which were 
like dungeons. The building on the bridge, which was 
a sort of small castle, was made into a long corridor, 
that served as an entrance, and was called the hall of 
the guards ; above this hall of the guards, which was a 
kind of entresol, a library was built ; above the library, 
a granary. Long windows, with small panes in Bohe- 
mian glass ; pilasters between the windows ; medallions 
sculptured on the wall ; three stories : below, bartizans 


and muskets ; in the middle, books ; on high, sacks of 
oats, —the whole at once somewhat savage and very 

The tower rose gloomy and stern at the side. It over- 
looked this coquettish building with all its lugubrious 
height. From its platform one could destroy the bridge. 

The two edifices — the one rude, the other elegant — 
clashed rather than contrasted. The two styles had 
nothing in keeping with each other. Although it 
should seem that two semicircles ought to be identical, 
nothing can be less alike than a Eomanic arch and the 
classic archivault. That tower, in keeping with the 
forests, made a stronger neighbour for that bridge, wor- 
thy of Versailles. Imagine Alain Barte-Torte giving 
his arm to Louis XIV. The juxtaposition was sinister. 
These two majesties thus mingled made up a whole 
which had something inexpressibly menacing in it. 

From a military point of view, the bridge (we must 
insist upon this) was a traitor to the tower. It embel- 
lished, but disarmed ; in gaining ornament, the fortress 
lost strength. The bridge put it on a level with the 
plateau. Still impregnable on the side toward the 
forest, it became vulnerable toward the plain, For- 
merly it commanded the plateau ; now it was commanded 
thereby. An enemy installed there would speedily be- 
come master of the bridge. The library and the granary 
would be for the assailant and against the citadel. A 
library and a granary resemble each other in the fact 
that both books and straw are combustible. For an 
assailant who serves himself by fire, to burn Homer or 
to burn a bundle of straw, provided it make a flame, is 
all the same; the French proved this to the Germans 
by burning the library at Heidelburg, and the Ger- 
mans proved it to the French by burning the library of 
Strasburg. This bridge, added to the Tourgue, was, 


therefore, strategically an error ; but in the seventeenth 
century, under Colbert and Louvois, the Gauvain princes 
no more considered themselves besiegable than did the 
princes of Rohan or the princes of La Trémoille. Still, 
the builders of the bridge had used certain precautions. 
In the first place they had foreseen the possibility of con- 
flagration : below the three casements that looked down 
the stream they had fastened transversely to cramp- 
irons, which could still be seen half a century back, a 
strong ladder, whose length equalled the height of the 
two stories of the bridge, — a height which surpassed 
that of the three ordinary stories. Secondly, they had 
guarded against assault, — they had cut off the bridge 
by means of a low, heavy iron door. This door was 
arched ; it was locked by a great key. which was hidden 
in a place known to the master alone, and, once closed, 
this door could defy a battering-ram and almost brave 
a cannon-ball. It was necessary to cross the bridge in 
order to reach this door, and to pass through the door 
in order to enter the tower. There was no other 

5. The, Iron Boor, 

The second story of the castle on the bridge was raised 
by the arches, so that it corresponded with the second 
story of the tower. It was at this height, for greater 
security, that the iron door had been placed. The iron 
door opened toward the library on the bridge side, and 
toward a grand vaulted hall, with a pillar in the centre, 
on the side. to the tower. 

This hall, as has already been said, was the second 
story of the keep. It was circular, like the tower ; a 
long loop-hole, looking out on the fields, lighted it. 
The rude wall was naked, and nothing hid the stones, 


which were however symmetrically laid. This hall was 
reached by a winding staircase built in the wall,- — a 
very simple thing when walls are fifteen feet in thick- 
ness. In the Middle Ages a town had to be taken street 
by street ; a street, house by house ; a house, room by 
room. A fortress was besieged story by story. In this 
respect La Tourgue was very skilfully disposed, and 
was very intractable and difficult. A spiral staircase, 
at first very steep, led from cas floor to the other. The 
doors were askew, and were not of the height of a man. 
To pass through, it was necessary to bow the head ; now, 
a head bowed was a head cut off, and at each door the 
besieged awaited the besiegers. 

Below the circular hall with the pillar were two simi- 
lar chambers, which made the first and the ground floor ; 
and above were three. Upon these six chambers, placed 
one upon another, the tower was closed by a lid of stone, 
which was the platform, and which could only be reached 
by a narrow watch-tower. The fifteen feet thickness of 
wall which it had been necessary to pierce in order to 
place the iron door, and in the middle of which it was 
set, embedded it in a long arch ; so that the door when 
closed was, both on the side toward the tower and on 
that toward the bridge, under a porch six or seven feet 
deep ; when it was open, these two porches joined and 
made the entrance-arch. 

In the thickness of the wall of the porch toward the 
bridge opened the low gate of Saint Gille's screw-stair- 
way, which led into the corridor of the first story be- 
neath the library. This offered another difficulty to 
besiegers. The small castle of the bridge showed, on the 
side toward the plateau, only a perpendicular wall ; and 
the bridge was cut there. A draw-bridge put the be- 
sieged in communication with the plateau ; and this 
draw-bridge (on account of the height of the plateau, 


never lowered except at an inclined plane) allowed access 
to the long corridor, called the guard-room. Once mas- 
ters of this corridor, besiegers, in order to reach the iron 
door, would have been obliged to carry by main force the 
winding staircase which led to the second story. 

6; The Library. 

As for the library, it was an oblong room, the width 
and length of the bridge, with a single door, — the iron 
one. A false leaf-door hung with green cloth, which it 
was only necessary to push, masked in the interior the 
entrance-arch of the tower. The library wall from floor 
to ceiling was filled with glazed book-cases, in the beau- 
tiful style of the seventeenth-century cabinet-work. Six 
great windows, three on either side, one above each 
arch, lighted this library. Through these windows the 
interior could be seen from the height of the plateau. 
In the spaces between these windows stood six marble 
busts on pedestals of sculptured oak, — Hermolaus, of 
Byzantium ; Athenseus, the grammarian of Naucratis ; 
Suidas ; Casaubon ; Clovis, King of France ; and his 
chancellor, Anachalus, who for that matter was no more 
chancellor than Clovis was king. 

There were books of various sorts in this library. One 
has remained famous. It was an old quarto with prints, 
having for title " Saint Bartholomew, " in great letters ; 
and for second title, " Gospel according to Saint Bar- 
tholomew, preceded by a dissertation by Pantœnus, 
Christian philosopher, as to whether this gospel ought 
to be considered apocryphal, and whether Saint Bar- 
tholomew was the same as Nathaniel. " This book, con- 
sidered a unique copy, was placed on a reading-desk in 
the middle of the library. In the last century, people 
came to see it as a curiosity. 


7. The Granary. 

As for the granary, which took, like the library, the 
oblong form of the bridge, it was simply the space be- 
neath the woodwork of the roof. It was a great room 
filled with straw and hay, and lighted by six Mansard 
windows. There was no ornament except a figure of 
Saint Bartholomew carved on the door, with this line 
beneath, — 

" Barnabus sanctus falcem jubet ire per herbam." 

Thus it was a lofty, wide tower of six stories, pierced 
here and there with loop-holes, having for entrance and 
egress a single door of iron leading to a bridge-castle 
closed by a draw-bridge ; behind the tower a forest ; in 
front a plateau of heath, higher than the bridge, lower 
than the tower ; beneath the bridge a deep, narrow ra- 
vine full of brushwood, — a torrent in winter, a brook in 
spring-time, a stony moat in summer. 

This was the Tower Gauvain, called La Tourgue. 



TULY passed ; August came. A blast, fierce and he- 
** roic, swept over France. Two spectres had just 
passed beyond the horizon, — Marat with a dagger in his 
heart, Charlotte Corday headless. Affairs everywhere 
were waxing formidable. 

As to the Vendée, beaten in grand strategic schemes, 
she took refuge in little ones, — more redoubtable, we 
have already said. This war was now an immense fight, ■ 
scattered about among the woods. The disasters of the 
large army, called the Catholic and Eoyal, had com- 
menced. The army from Mayence had been ordered 
into the Vendée. Eight thousand Vendeans had fallen 
at Ancenis ; they had been repulsed from Nantes, dis- 
lodged from Montaigu, expelled from Thouars, chased 
from Noirmoutier, flung headlong out of Cholet, Mor- 
tagne, and Saumur; they had evacuated Parthenay, 
abandoned Clisson, fallen back from Châtillon, lost a 
flag at Saint-Hilaire ; they had been beaten at Pornic, 
at the Sables, at Fontenay, at Doué, at the Château 
d'Eau, at the Ponts-de-Cé ; they were kept in check 
at Luçon, were retreating from the Chataigneraye, 
and were routed at the Eoche-sur-Yon. But on the 
one hand they were menacing Rochelle ; and on the 
other an English fleet in the Guernsey waters, com- 
manded by General Craig, and bearing several English 
regiments and some of the best officers of the French 


navy, only waited a signal from the Marquis de Lan- 
tenac to land. This landing might make the royalist 
revolt again victorious. 

Pitt was in truth a State malefactor. Policy has 
treasons sure as an assassin's dagger. Pitt stabbed our 
country and betrayed his own : to dishonour his coun- 
try was to betray it. Under him and through him 
England waged a Punic war; she spied, she cheated, 
she hid. Poacher and forger, she stopped at nothing- 
she descended to the very minutiae of hatred. She 
monopolized tallow, which cost five francs a pound. An 
Englishman was taken at Lille on whom was found a 
letter from Prigent, Pitt's agent in Vendée, which con- 
tained these lines : — 

" I beg you to spare no money. We hope that the assas- 
sinations will be committed with prudence; disguised priests 
.and women are the persons most fit for this duty. Send 
sixty thousand francs to Rouen and fifty thousand to Caen." 

This letter was read in the Convention on the first of 
August by Barère. The cruelties of Parrein, and later 
the atrocities of Carrier, replied to these perfidies. The 
republicans of Metz and the republicans of the South 
were eager to march against the rebels. A decree or- 
dered the formation of eighty companies of pioneers for 
burning the copses and thickets of the Bocage. It was 
an unheard-of crisis. The war only ceased on one foot- 
ing to begin on another. " No mercy ! No prisoners ! " 
was the cry of both parties. The history of that time 
is black with awful shadows. 

During this month of August, La Tourgue was besieged. 
One evening, just as the stars were rising amid the calm 
twilight of the dog-days, when not a leaf stirred in the 
forest, not a blade of grass trembled on the plain, across 
the stillness of the night swept the sound of a horn 


This horn was blown from the top of the tower. The 
peal was answered by the voice of a clarion from below. 
On the summit of the tower stood an armed man ; at the 
foot, a camp spread out in the shadow. 

In the obscurity about the Tower Gauvain could be 
distinguished a moving mass of black shapes. It was 
a bivouac. A few fires began to blaze beneath the trees 
of the forest and among the heaths of the plateau, prick- 
ing the darkness here and there with luminous points, 
as if the earth were studding itself with stars at the 
same instant as the sky ; but they were the sinister stars 
of war. On the side toward the plateau the bivouac 
stretched out to the plains, and on the forest side ex- 
tended into the thicket. La Tourgue was invested. 

The outstretch of the besiegers' bivouac indicated a 
numerous force. The camp tightly clasped the fortress, 
coming close up to the rock on the side toward the 
tower, and close to the ravine on the bridge side. 

There was a second sound of the horn, followed by 
another peal from the clarion. This time the horn 
questioned, and the trumpet replied. It was the de- 
mand of the tower to the camp : " Can we speak to 
you ? " The clarion was the answer for the camp : 
" Yes. " 

At this period the Vendeans, not being considered 
belligerents by the Convention, and a decree having for- 
bidden the exchange of flags of truce with " the bri- 
gands, " the armies supplimented as they could the means 
of communication which the law of nations authorizes 
in ordinary war and interdicts in civil strife. Hence 
on occasion a certain understanding between the peas- 
ant's horn and the military trumpet. The first call was 
only to attract attention ; the second put the question, 
" Will you listen ? " If on this second summons the 
clarion kept silent, it was a refusal ; if the clarion re- 


plied, it was a consent. It signified, " Truce for a few 
moments. " 

The clarion having answered the second appeal, the 
man on the top of the tower spoke, and these words 
could be heard : — 

" Men, who listen to me, I am Gouge le-Bruant, sur- 
named Brise-Bleu because I have exterminated many 
of yours; surnamed also Imânus, because I mean to 
kill still more than I have already done. My finger 
was cut off by a blow from a sabre on the barrel of my 
gun in the attack at Granville ; at Laval you guillotined 
my father, my mother, and my sister Jacqueline, aged 
eighteen. This is who I am. I speak to you in the 
name of my lord Marquis Gauvain de Lantenac, Vis- 
count de Fontenay, Breton prince, lord of the Seven 
Forests, — my master. 

" Learn, first, that Monseigneur the Marquis, before 
shutting himself in this tower where you hold him 
blockaded, distributed the command among six chiefs, 
his lieutenants. He gave to Delière the district be- 
tween the road to Brest and the road to Ernée ; to 
Tréton, the district between Roe and Laval ; to Jacquet, 
called Taillefer, the border of the Haut-Maine ; to 
Gaulier, named Grand Pierre, Château Gontier; to Le- 
comte, Craon ; to Dubois Guy, Fougères ; and to De 
Rochambeau, all of Mayenne. So the taking of this 
fortress will not end matters for you ; and even if Mon- 
seigneur the Marquis should die, the Vendée of God and 
the king will still live. That which I say — know this 
— is to warn you. Monseigneur is here by my side ; I 
am the mouth through which his words pass. You 
who are besieging us, keep silence. This is what it is 
important for you to hear : — 

" Do not forget that the war you are making against 
us is without justice. We are men inhabiting our own 


country, and we fight honestly ; we are simple and pure, 
— beneath the will of God, as -the grass is beneath the 
dew. It is the Kepublic which has attacked us; she 
comes to trouble us in our fields ; she has burned our 
houses, our harvests, and ruined our farms, while our 
women and children were forced to wander with naked 
feet among the woods when the winter robin was still 
singing. You who are down there and who hear me, you 
have enclosed us in the forest and surrounded us in this 
tower; you have killed or dispersed those who joined us ; 
you have cannon ; you have added to your troop the 
garrisons and posts of Mortain, of Barenton, of Teilleul, 
of Landivy, of Evran, of Tinteniac, and of Vitré — by 
which means you are four thousand five hundred sol- 
diers who attack us ; and we — we are nineteen men 
who defend ourselves. You have provisions and muni- 
tions. You have succeeded in mining and blowing up 
a corner of our rock and a bit of our wall. That has 
made a gap at the foot of the tower, and this gap is a 
breach by which you can enter, although it is not open 
to the sky ; and the tower, still upright and strong, 
makes an arch above it. Now, you are preparing the 
assault; and we, — first, Monseigneur the Marquis, who 
is Prince of Brittany, and secular Prior of the Abbey of 
Saint Marie de Lantenac, where a daily Mass was estab- 
lished by Queen Jeanne; and, next to him, the other 
defenders of the tower, who are the Abbé Turmeau, 
whose military name is Grand Francœur; my comrade 
Guinoiseau, who is captain of Camp Vert; my comrade 
Chante-en-Hiver, who is captain of Camp Avoine ; my 
comrade Musette, who is captain of Camp Fourmis ; and 
I, peasant, born in the town of Daon, through which 
runs the brook Moriandre, — we all, all have one thing 
to say to you. Men, who are at the bottom of this tower, 
listen ! 


" We have in our hands three prisoners, who are three 
children. These children were adopted by one of your 
regiments, and they belong to you. We offer to surren- 
der these three children to you, on one condition ; it 
is that we shall depart freely. If you refuse, listen well. 
You can only attack us in one of two ways, — by the 
breach, on the side of the forest ; or by the bridge, on 
the side of the plateau. The building on the bridge has 
three stories; in the lower story, I, Imânus — I who 
speak to you — have put six hogsheads of tar and a hun- 
dred fascines of dried heath ; in the top story there is 
straw ; in the middle story there are books and papers. 
The iron door which communicates between the bridge 
and the tower is closed, and Monseigneur carries the 
key'; I have myself made a hole under the door, and 
through this hole passes a sulphur slow-match, one end 
of which is in the tar and the other within reach of my 
hand, inside the tower. I can fire it when I choose. 
If you refuse o let us go out, the three children will be 
placed in the second floor of the bridge, between the 
story where the sulphur-match touches the tar and the 
floor where the straw is, and the iron dooi will be shut 
on them. If you attack by the bridge, it will be you 
who set the building on fire ; if you attack by the breach 
it will be we ; if you attack by the breach and the bridge 
at the same time, the fire will be kindled at the same 
instant by us both, and, in any case, the three children 
will perish. 

" Now, accept or refuse. If you accept, we come out. 
If you refuse, the children die. I have spoken. " 

The man speaking from the top of the tower became 
silent. A voice from below cried : " We refuse ! w 

This voice was abrupt and severe. Another voice, 
less harsh, though firm, added : " We give you four-and- 
twenty hours to surrender at discretion. " There was a 


silence, then the same voice continued : " To-morrow, 
at this hour, if you have not surrendered, we commence 
the assault. " 

And the first voice resumed : " And then no quarter ! " 
To this savage voice another replied from the top of 
the tower ! Between the two battlements a lofty figure 
bent forward, and in the starlight the stern face of the 
Marquis de Lantenac could be distinguished , his som- 
bre glance shot down into the obscurity and seemed to 
look for some one . and he cried : " Hold, it is thou, 
priest ! " 

" Yes, traitor ; it is I, " replied the stern voice from 



'"p^HE implacable voice was, in truth, that of Cimour- 
-*■ dain ; the younger and less imperative that of 

The Marquis de Lantenac did not deceive himself in 
fancying that he recognized Cimourdain. As we know, 
a few weeks in this district, made bloody by civil war, 
had rendered Cimourdain famous ; there was no notoriety 
more darkly sinister than his. People said : Marat at 
Paris, Châlier at Lyons, Cimourdain in Vendée. They 
stripped the Abbé Cimourdain of all the respect which 
he had formerly commanded ; that is the consequence 
of a priest's unfrocking himself. Cimourdain inspired 
horror. The severe are unfortunate ; those who note 
their acts condemn them, though perhaps, if their con- 
sciences could be seen, they would stand absolved. A 
Lycurgus misunderstood appears a Tiberius. Those two 
men, the Marquis de Lantenac and the Abbé Cimourdain, 
were equally poised in the balance of hatred. The 
maledictions of the royalists against Cimourdain made 
a counterpoise to the execrations of the republicans 
against Lantenac. Each of these men was a monster to 
the opposing camp; so far did this equality go, that 
while Prieur, of the Marne, was setting a price on the 
head of Lantenac, Charette at Noirmoutiers set a price 
on the head of Cimourdain. Let us add, these two 
men — the marquis and the priest — were up to a cer- 


tain point the same man. The bronze mask of civil war 
has two profiles, — the one turned toward the past, the 
other set toward the future ; but both equally tragic. 
Lantenac was the first of these profiles, Cimourdain the 
second; only, the bitter sneer of Lantenac was full of 
shadow and night, and on the fatal brow of Cimourdain 
shone a gleam from the morning. 

And now the besieged of La Tourgue had a respite. 
Thanks to the intervention of Gauvain, a sort of truce 
for twenty-four hours had been agreed upon. 

Imanus had, indeed, been well informed. Through 
the requisitions of Cimourdain, Gauvain had now four 
thousand five hundred men under his command, part 
national guards, part troops of the Line ; with these he 
had surrounded Lantenac in La Tourgue, and was able 
to level twelve cannon at the fortress, — a masked bat- 
tery of six pieces on the edge of the forest toward the 
tower, and an open battery of six on the plateau, toward 
the bridge. He had succeeded in springing the mine 
and making a breach at the foot of the tower. 

Thus, when the twenty-four hours' truce was ended, 
the attack would begin under these conditions : On the 
plateau and in the forest were four thousand five hun- 
dred men. In the tower nineteen ! History might find 
the names of those besieged nineteen in the list of 
outlaws. We shall perhaps encounter them. 

As commander of these four thousand five hundred 
men, which almost made an army, Cimourdain had 
wished Gauvain to allow himself to be made adjutant- 
general. Gauvain refused, saying, " When Lantenac is 
taken, we will see. As yet, I have merited nothing. " 
Those great commands, with low regimental rank, were, 
for that matter, a custom among the republicans. 
Bonaparte was, after this, at the same time colonel of 
artillery and general-in-chief of the army of Italy. 


The Tower Gauvain had a strange destiny, — a Gau- 
vain attacked, a Gauvain defended it. From that fact 
rose a certain reserve in the attack, but not in the de- 
fence ; for Lantenac was a man who spared nothing. 
Moreover, he had always lived at Versailles, and had 
no personal associations with La Tourgue, which he 
scarcely knew indeed. He had sought refuge there 
because he had no other asylum, — that was all ; he 
would have demolished it without scruple. Gauvain 
had more respect for the place. 

The weak point of the fortress was the bridge ; but in 
the library, which was on the bridge, were the family 
archives. If the assault took place on that side, the 
burning of the bridge would be inevitable. To burn the 
archives seemed to Gauvain like attacking his fore- 
fathers. La Tourgue was the ancestral dwelling of the 
Gauvains ; in this tower centred all their fiefs of Brit- 
tany, just as all the fiefs of France centred in the tower 
of the Louvre. The home associations of Gauvain were 
there ; he had been born within those walls. The tor- 
tuous fatalities of life forced him, a man, to attack this 
venerable pile which had sheltered him when a child. 
Could he be guilty of the impiety of reducing this dwel- 
ling to ashes ? Perhaps his very cradle was stored in 
some corner of the granary above the library. Certain 
reflections are emotions. Gauvain felt himself moved 
in the presence of this ancient house of his family. 
That was why he had spared the bridge. He had con- 
fined himself to making any sally or escape impossible 
by this outlet, and had guarded the bridge by a battery, 
and chosen the opposite side for the attack. Hence the 
mining and sapping at the foot of the tower. 

Cimourdain had allowed him to take his own way. 
He reproached himself for it ; his stern spirit revolted 
against all these Gothic relics, and he no more believed 


in pity for buildings than for men. Sparing a castle 
was a beginning of clemency. Now, clemency was 
Gauvain's weak point. Cimourdain, as we have seen, 
watched him, — drew him back from this, in his eyes, 
fatal weakness. Still, he himself, though he felt a sort 
of rage in being forced to admit it to his soul, had not 
revisited La Tourgue without a secret shock ; he felt 
himself softened at the sight of that study where were 
still the first books he had made Gauvain read. He had 
been the priest of the neighbouring village, Parigné ; 
he, Cimourdain, had dwelt in the attic of the bridge- 
castle ; it was in the library that he had held Gauvain 
between his knees as a child, and taught him to lisp out 
the alphabet ; it was within those four old walls that he 
had seen grow this well-beloved pupil, the son of his 
soul, increase physically and strengthen in mind. This 
library, this small castle, these walls full of his blessings 
upon the child, — was he about to overturn and burn 
them ? He had shown them mercy, — not without re- 
morse. He had allowed Gauvain to open the siege from 
the opposite point. La Tourgue had its savage side, the 
tower, and its civilized side, the library. Cimourdain 
had allowed Gauvain to batter a breach in the savage 
side alone. 

In truth, attacked by a Gauvain, defended by a Gau- 
vain this old dwelling returned in the height of the 
French Eevolution to feudal customs. Wars between 
kinsmen make up the history of the Middle Ages : the 
Eteocles and Polynices are Gothic as well as Grecian, 
and Hamlet does at Elsinore what Orestes did in Argos. 



HHHE whole night was consumed in preparations on 
X the one side and the other. As soon as the 
sombre parley which we have just heard had ended, 
Gauvain's first act was to .call his lieutenant. 

Guéchamp, of whom it will be necessary to know some- 
what, was a man of second-rate, honest, intrepid, medi- 
ocre ; a better soldier than leader ; rigorously intelligent 
up to the point where it ceases to be a duty to under- 
stand ; never softened; inaccessible to corruption of any 
sort, — whether of venality, which corrupts the con- 
science ; or of pity, which corrupts justice. He had on 
soul and heart those two shades, — discipline and the 
countersign, as a horse has his blinkers on both eyes ; 
and he walked unflinchingly in the space thus left visible 
to him. His way was straight, but narrow. A man to 
be depended on ; rigid in command, exact in obedience. 

Gauvain spoke rapidly to him. " Guéchamp, a 
ladder." ' 

" Commandant, we have none. " 

" One must be had. " 

"For scaling V 

" No, for escape. w 

Guéchamp reflected an instant, then answered : " 1 
understand. But for what you want, it must be very 
high. " 

" At least three stories. " 


tt Yes, Commandant, that is pretty nearly the height. n 
" It must even go beyond that, for we must be certain 
of success. " 

" Without doubt. " 

" How does it happen that you have no ladder ? " 
" Commandant, you did not think best to besiege La 
Tourgue by the plateau; you contented yourself with 
blockading it on this side. You wished to attack, not 
by the bridge, but the tower; so we only busied our- 
selves with the mine, and the escalade was given up. 
That is why we have no ladders. " 
" Have one made immediately. " 
" A ladder three stories high cannot be improvised. " 
" Have several short ladders joined together. " 
" One must have them in order to do that. " 
■ Find them. " 

" There are none to be found. All through the coun- 
try the peasants destroy the ladders, just as they break 
up the carts and cut the bridges. " 

" It is true ; they try to paralyze the Eepublic. " 
" They want to manage so that we can neither trans- 
port baggage, cross a river, nor escalade a wall. " 
" Still, I must have a ladder. " 

" I just remember, Commandant, at Javené, near 
Fougères, there is a large carpenter's shop. They might 
have one there. " 

* There is not a minute to lose. " 
" When do you want the ladder ? " 
" To-morrow at this hour, at the latest. " 
" I will send an express full speed to Javené. He 
can take a requisition. There is a post of cavalry at 
Javené which will furnish an escort. The ladder can 
be here to-morrow before sunset. " 

" It is well ; that will answer, " said Gauvain. " Act 
quickly; go." 


Ten minutes after, Guéchamp came back and said to 
Gauvain : " Commandant, the express has started for 
Javené. " 

Gauvain ascended the plateau and remained for a long 
time with his eyes fixed on the bridge-castle across the 
ravine. The gable of the building, without other means 
of access than the low entrance closed by the raising of 
the draw-bridge, faced the escarpment of the ravine. In 
order to reach the arches of the bridge from the plateau, 
it was necessary to descend this escarpment, — a feat 
possible to accomplish by clinging to the brushwood. 
But once in the moat, the assailants would be exposed 
to all the projectiles that might rain from the three 

Gauvain finished by convincing himself that at the 
point which the siege had reached, the veritable attack 
ought to be by the breach of the tower. He took every 
measure to render any escape out of the question ; he 
increased the strictness of the investment ; drew closer 
the ranks of his battalions, so that nothing could pass 
between. Gauvain and Cimourdain divided the invest- 
ment of the fortress between them. Gauvain reserved 
the forest side for himself, and gave Cimourdain the 
side of the plateau. It was agreed that while Gauvain, 
seconded by Guéchamp, conducted the assault through 
the mine, Cimourdain should guard the bridge and ra- 
vine, with every match of the open battery lighted. 



WHILE without every preparation for the attach 
was going on, within everything was preparing 
for resistance. 

It is not without a real analogy that a tower is called 
a " douve ; " and sometimes a tower is breached by a 
mine, as a cask is bored by an auger. The wall opens 
like a bunghole. This was what had happened at La 
Tourgue. The great blast of two or three hundredweight 
of powder had burst the mighty wall through and 
through. This breach started from the foot of the tower, 
traversed the wall in its thickest part, and made a sort 
of shapeless arch in the ground-floor of the fortress. On 
the outside the besiegers, in order to render this gap 
practicable for assault, had enlarged and finished it off 
by cannon-shots. 

The ground-floor which this breach penetrated was a 
great round hall, entirely empty, with a central pillar 
which supported the keystone of the vaulted roof. This 
chamber, the largest in the whole keep, was not less 
than forty feet in diameter. Each story of the tower 
was composed of a similar room, but smaller, with 
guards to the embrasures of the loop-holes. The ground- 
floor chamber had neither loop-holes nor air-holes ; there 
was about as much air and light as in a tomb. The 
door of the dungeon, made more of iron than wood, was 
in this ground- floor room. Another door opened upon 


a staircase which led to the upper chambers. All the 
staircases were contrived in the interior of the wall. It 
was into this lower room that the besiegers could arrive 
by the breach they had made. This hall taken, there 
would still be the tower to take. It had always been 
impossible to breathe in that hall for any length of 
time. Nobody ever passed twenty-four hours there 
without suffocating. Now, thanks to the breach, one 
could exist there. That was why the besieged had not 
closed the breach. Besides, of what service would it 
have been ? The cannon would have re-opened it. They 
stuck an iron torch-holder into the wall, and put a torch 
in it, which lighted the ground -floor. 

Now, how to defend themselves ? To wall up the hole 
would be easy, but useless. A retirade would be of 
more service. A retirade is an intrenchment with a 
re-entering angle, — a sort of rafted barricade, which 
admits of converging the fire upon the assailants, and 
while leaving the breach open exteriorly blocks it on 
the inside. Materials were not lacking. They con- 
structed a retirade with fissures for the passage of the 
gun -barrels. The angle was supported by the central 
pillar ; the wings touched the wall on either side. 

The marquis directed everything- Inspirer, com- 
mander, guide, and master, — a terrible spirit. Lante- 
nac belonged to that race of warriors of the eighteenth 
century, who at eighty years saved cities. He resem- 
bled that Count d'Alberg who, almost a centenarian, 
drove the King of Poland from Eiga. " Courage, 
friends, " said the marquis ; " at the commencement of 
this century, in 1713, at Bender, Charles XII. , shut up 
in a house with three hundred Swedes, held his own 
against twenty thousand Turks. " 

They barricaded the two lower floors, fortified the 
chambers, battlemented the alcoves, supported the doors 


with joists driven in by blows from a mallet ; and thus 
formed a sort of buttress. It was necessary to leave free 
the spiral staircase which joined the different floors, for 
they must be able to get up and down, and to stop it 
against the besiegers would have been to close it against 
themselves. The defence of any place has thus always 
some weak side. 

The marquis, indefatigable, robust as a young man, set 
an example, — lifted beams, carried stones, put his hand 1 
to the work, commanded, aided, fraternized, laughed with 
this ferocious clan, but remained always the noble still, 
— haughty, familiar, elegant, savage. He permitted no 
reply to his orders. He had said : " If the half of you 
should revolt, I would have them shot by the other 
half, and defend the place with those that were left * 
Such things make a leader adored. 



WHILE the marquis occupied himself with the 
breach and the tower, Imânus was busy with the 
bridge. At the beginning of the siege, the escape- 
ladder which hung transversely below the windows of 
the second story had been removed by the marquis's 
orders, and Imânus had put it in the library. (It was, 
perhaps, the loss of this ladder which Gauvain wished 
to supply.) The windows of the lower floor, called the 
guard-room, were defended by a triple bracing of iron 
bars, set in the stone, so that neither ingress nor egress 
was possible by them. The library -windows had no 
bars, but they were very high. 

Imânus took three men with him, who, like himself, 
possessed capabilities and resolution that would carry 
them through anything : these men were Hoisnard, 
called Branche d'Or, and the two brothers Pique-en- 
Bois. Imânus, carrying a dark lantern, opened the 
iron door and carefully visited the three stories of the 
bridge-castle. Branche d'Or was implacable as Imânus, 
having had a brother killed by the Eepublicans. Imâ- 
nus examined the upper room filled with hay and straw, 
and the ground-floor, where he had several fire -pots 
added to the tuns of tar ; he placed the heap of fascines 
so that they touched the casks, and assured himself of 
the good condition of the sulphur-match, of which one 
end was in the bridge and the other in the tower. He 


spread over the floor, under the tuns and fascines, a 
pool of tar, in which he dipped the end of the sulphur- 
match. Then he brought into the library, between the 
ground-floor where the tar was and the garret filled with 
straw, the three cribs in which lay Eené-Jean, Gros- 
Alain, and Georgette, buried in deep sleep. They car- 
ried the cradles very gently in order not to awaken the 
little ones. They were simple village cribs, a sort of 
low osier-basket, which stood on the floor so that a child 
could get out unaided. Near each cradle Imânus placed 
a porringer of soup, with a wooden spoon. The escape- 
ladder, unhooked from its cramping-irons, had been set 
on the floor against the wall ; Imânus arranged the three 
cribs, end to end, in front of the ladder. Then, think- 
ing - that a current of air might be useful, he opened 
wide the six windows of the library ; the summer night 
was warm and starlight. He sent the brothers Pique- 
en-Bois to open the windows of the upper and lower 
stories. He had noticed on the eastern façade of the 
building a great dried old ivy, the colour of tinder, 
which covered one whole side of the bridge from top to 
bottom, and framed in the windows of the three stories. 
He thought this ivy might be left. 

Imânus took a last watchful glance at everything; 
that done, the four men left the châtelet and returned to 
the tower. Imânus double-locked the heavy iron door, 
studied attentively the enormous bolts, and nodded his 
head in a satisfied way at the sulphur-match which 
passed through the hole he had drilled, and was now the 
sole communication between the tower and the bridge. 
This train or wick started from the round chamber, 
passed beneath the iron door, entered under the arch, 
twisted like a snake down the spiral staircase leading to 
the lower story of the bridge, crept over the floor, and 
ended in the heap of dried fascines laid on the pool of tar. 


Imânus had calculated that it would take about a quarter 
of an hour for this wick, when lighted in the interior of 
the tower, to set fire to the pool of tar under the library. 
These arrangements all concluded, and every work care- 
fully inspected, he carried the key of the iron door back 
to the marquis, who put it in his pocket. 

It was important that every movement of the besiegers 
should be watched. Imânus, with his cowherd's horn 
in his belt, posted himself as sentinel on the watch- 
tower of the platform at the top of the tower. While 
keeping a constant look-out, one eye on the forest and 
one on the plateau, he worked at making cartridges, 
having near him, in the embrasure of the watch-tower 
window, a powder-horn, a canvas-bag full of good-sized 
balls, and some old newspapers, which he tore up foi 

When the sun rose it lighted in the forest eight bat- 
talions, with sabres at their sides, knapsacks on their 
backs, and guns with fixed bayonets, ready for the as- 
sault ; on the plateau, a battery with caissons, car- 
tridges, and boxes of case-shot; within the fortress, 
nineteen men loading several guns, muskets, blunder- 
busses, and pistols, — and three children sleeping iu 
their cradles. 




THE children woke. The little girl was the first to 
open her eyes. The waking of children is like 
the unclosing of flowers, — a perfume seems to exhale 
from those fresh young souls. 

Georgette, twenty months old, the youngest of the 
three who was still a nursing baby in the month of May, 
raised her little head, sat up in her cradle, looked at her 
feet, and began to chatter. A ray of the morning fell 
across her crib ; it would have been difficult to decide 
which was the rosiest, — Georgette's foot or Aurora. The 
other two still slept; the slumber of boys is heavier. 
Georgette, gay and happy, began to chatter. Eené- Jean's 
hair was brown, Gros-Alain's was auburn, Georgette's 
blond. These tints would change later in life. Eené- 
Jean had the look of an infant Hercules ; he slept lying 
on his stomach, with his two fists in his eyes. Gros- 
Alain had thrust his legs outside his little bed. 

All three were in rags. The garments given them by 
the battalion of the Bonnet Eouge had worn to shreds ; 
they had not even a shirt between them. The two boys 
were almost naked ; Georgette was muffled in a rag 
which had once been a petticoat, but was now little 


more than a jacket. Who had taken care of these chil- 
dren ? Impossible to say. Not a mother. These sav- 
age peasant fighters, who dragged them along from forest 
to forest, had given them their portion of soup. That 
was all. The little ones lived as they could. They 
had everybody for master, and nobody for father. But 
even about the rags of childhood there hangs a halo. 
These three tiny creatures were lovely. 

Georgette prattled. A bird sings, a child prattles ; 
but it is the same hymn, — hymn indistinct, inarticu- 
late, but full of profound meaning. The child, unlike 
the bird, has the sombre destiny of humanity before it : 
this thought saddens any man who listens to the joyous 
song of a child. The most sublime psalm that can be 
heard on this earth is the lisping of a human soul from 
the lips of childhood. This confused murmur of thought 
which is as yet only instinct, holds a strange unreason- 
ing appeal to eternal justice; perchance it is a protest 
against life while standing on its threshold, — a protest 
unconscious, yet heart-rending. This ignorance, smil- 
ing at infinity, lays upon all creation the burden of the 
destiny which shall be offered to this feeble, unarmed 
creature ; if unhappiness comes, it seems like a betrayal 
of confidence. The babble of an infant is more and less 
than speech : it is not measured, and yet it is a song ; 
not syllables, and yet a language, — a murmur that be- 
gan in heaven, and will not finish on earth; it com- 
menced before human birth, and will continue in the 
sphere beyond ! These lispings are the echo of what 
the child said when he was an angel, and of what he 
will say when he enters eternity. The cradle has a 
yesterday, just as the grave has a to-morrow : this 
morrow and this yesterday join their double mystery in 
that incomprehensible warbling; and there is no such 
proof of God, of eternity, and the duality of destiny, 


as in this awe-inspiring shadow flung across that flower- 
like soul. 

There was nothing saddening in Georgette's prattle ; her 
whole lovely face was a smile. Her mouth smiled, her 
eyes smiled, the dimples in her cheeks smiled. There 
was a serene acceptance of the morning in this smile. 
The soul has faith in the sunlight. The sky was blue, 
warm, beautiful. This frail creature, who knew noth- 
ing, who comprehended nothing, softly cradled in a dream 
which was not thought, felt herself in safety amidst the 
loveliness of Nature, — these sturdy trees, this pure 
verdure, this landscape fair and peaceful, with its noises 
of birds, brooks, insects, leaves, above which glowed the 
brightness of the sun. 

After Georgette, Eené-Jean, the eldest, who was past 
four, awoke. He sat up, jumped in a manly way over 
the side of his cradle, found out the porringer, consid- 
ered that quite natural, and so sat down on the floor and 
began to eat his soup. 

Georgette's prattle had not awakened Gros-Alain, but 
at the sound of the spoon in the porringer he turned over 
with a start, and opened his eyes. Gros-Alain was the 
one three years old. He saw his bowl ; he had only 
to stretch out his arm and take it. So, without leaving 
his bed, he followed Eené-Jean 's example, seized the 
spoon in his little fist, and began to eat, holding the 
bowl on his knees. 

Georgette did not hear them ; the modulations of her 
voice seemed measured by the cradling of a dream. Her 
great eyes, gazing upward, were divine. No matter how 
dark the ceiling in the vault above a child's head, 
heaven is reflected in its eyes. 

When Eené-Jean had finished his portion, he scraped 
the bottom of the bowl with his spoon, sighed, and said 
with dignity, " I have eaten my soup. " 


This roused Georgette from her reverie. " Thoup ! " 
said she. Seeing that Bene -Jean had eaten, and that 
Gros-Alain was eating, she took the porringer which 
was placed by her cradle, and began to eat in her turn, 
— not without carrying the spoon to her ear much 
oftener than to her mouth. From time to time she 
renounced civilization, and ate with her fingers. 

When Gros-Alain had scraped the bottom of his por- 
ringer too, he leaped out of bed and joined his brother. 


OUDDENLY from without, down below, on the side 
^ of the forest, came the stern, loud ring of a trum- 
pet. To this clarion-blast a horn from the top of the 
tower replied. This time it was the clarion which 
called, and the horn which made answer. The clarion 
blew a second summons, and the horn again replied. 
Then from the edge of the forest rose a voice, distant 
but clear, which cried thus : — 

" Brigands, a summons ! If at sunset you have not 
surrendered at discretion, we commence the attack. " 

A voice, which sounded like the roar of a wild ani- 
mal, responded from the summit of the tower : " Attack ! " 

The voice from below resumed : " A cannon will be 
fired, as a last warning, half an hour before the as- 
sault, " 

The voice from on high repeated : " Attack ! " 

These voices did not reach the children, but the trum- 
pet and the horn rose loud and clear. At the first sound 
of the clarion, Georgette lifted her head, and stopped 
eating ; at the sound of the horn, she dropped her spoon 
into the porringer; at the second blast of the trumpet, 
she lifted the little forefinger of her right hand, and, 
raising and depressing it in turn, marked the cadences 
of the flourish which prolonged the blast. When the 
trumpet and the horn ceased, she remained with her 
finger pensively lifted, and murmured, in a half-voice, 
" Muthic. " We suppose that she wished to say, 
u Music. " 


The two elders, Kené-Jean and Gros-Alain, had paid 
no attention to the trumpet and horn ; they were ab- 
sorbed by something else : a wood-louse was just making 
a journey across the library floor. 

Gros-Alain perceived it, and cried : " There is a little 
creature ! " Kené-Jean ran up. Gros-Alain continued : 
" It stings. " 

" Do not hurt it, " said Kené-Jean. 

And both remained watching the traveller. 

Georgette proceeded to finish her soup ; that done, she 
looked about for her brothers. Kené-Jean and Gros- 
Alain were in the recess of one of the windows, gravely 
stooping over the wood-louse, — their foreheads touch- 
ing, their curls mingling. They held their breath in 
wonder, and examined the insect, which had stopped, 
and did not attempt to move, though not appreciating 
the admiration it received. 

Georgette seeing that her brothers were watching 
something, must needs know what it was. It was not 
an easy matter to reach them ; still, she undertook the 
journey. The way was full of difficulties. There were 
things scattered over the floor. There were footstools 
overturned, heaps of old papers, packing-cases forced 
open and empty, trunks, rubbish of all sorts, in and out 
of which it was necessary to sail, — a whole archipelago 
of reefs ; but Georgette risked it. The first task was to 
get out of her crib ; then she entered the chain of reefs, 
twisted herself through the straits, — pushed a footstool 
aside, crept between two coffers, got over a heap of 
papers, climbing up one side and rolling down the other, 
regardless of the exposure to her poor little naked legs, 
and succeeded in reaching what a sailor would have 
called an open sea, — that is, a sufficiently wide space oi 
the floor which was not littered over, and where there 
were no more perils ; then she bounded forward, traversed 


this space, which was the whole width of the room, on 
all fours with the agility of a kitten, and got near to 
the window. There a fresh and formidable obstacle 
encountered her : the great ladder lying along the wall 
reached to this window, the end of it passing a little 
beyond the corner of the recess ; it formed between 
Georgette and her brothers a sort of cape, which must 
be crossed. She stopped and meditated; her internal 
monologue ended, she came to a decision. She reso- 
lutely twisted her rosy fingers about one of the rungs, 
which were vertical, as the ladder lay along its side: 
she tried to raise herself on her feet, and fell back ; 
she began again, and fell a second time ; the third 
effort was successful. Then, standing up, she caught 
hold of the rounds in succession, and walked the length 
of the ladder. When she reached the extremity there 
was nothing more to support her; she tottered, but 
seizing in her two hands the end of one of the great 
poles, which held the rungs, she rose again, doubled 
the promontory, looked at Kené-Jean and Gros-Alain, 
and began to laugh. 


Aï that instant, Eené-Jean, satisfied with the result 
of his investigations of the wood-louse, raised his 
head, and announced, " 'T is a she-creature. " 

Georgette's laughter made Eené-Jean laugh, and Eené- 
Jean 's laughter made Gros-Alain laugh. Georgette 
seated herself beside her brothers, the recess forming a 
sort of little reception chamber; but their guest, the 
wood-louse had disappeared. He had taken advantage 
of Georgette's laughter to hide himself in a crack of 
the floor. 

Other incidents followed the wood-louse's visit. 
First, a flock of swallows passed. They probably had 
their nests under the edge of the overhanging roof. 
They flew close to the window, a little startled by the 
sight of the children, describing great circles in the air, 
and uttering their melodious spring song. The sound 
made the three little ones look up, and the wood-louse 
was forgotten. 

Georgette pointed her finger toward the swallows, 
and cried, " Chicks ! " 

Eené-Jean reprimanded her. " Miss, you must not 
say ' chicks ; ' they are birds. " 

" Birz, " repeated Georgette. 

And all three sat and watched the swallows. 

Then a bee entered. There is nothing so like a souj 
as a bee. It goes from flower to flower as a soul from 
star to star, and gathers honey as the soul does light. 
This visitor made a great noise as it came in ; it buzzed 
at the top of its voice, seeming to say. " I have come ! I 


have first been to see the roses, now I come to see the 
children. What is going on here ?" A bee is a house- 
wife ; its song is a grumble. The children did not take 
their eyes off the new comer as long as it stayed with 
them. The bee explored the library, rummaged in the 
corners, fluttered about with the air of being at home in a 
hive, and wandered, winged and melodious, from book- 
case to book-case, examining the titles of the volumes 
through the glass doors as if it had an intellect. Its 
exploration finished, it departed. 

" She is going to her own house, " said Eené-Jean. 

" It is a beast, " said Gros-Alain. 

" No, " replied Eené-Jean, " it is a fly. " 

" A f'y, " said Georgette. 

Thereupon Gros-Alain, who had just found on the 
floor a cord with a knot in one end, took the opposite 
extremity between his thumb and forefinger, and made 
a sort of wind-mill of the string, watching its whirls 
with profound attention. 

On her side, Georgette, having turned into a quadru- 
ped again, and recommenced her capricious course back 
and forward across the floor, discovered a venerable 
tapestry-covered armchair, so eaten by moths that the 
horse-hair stuck out in several places. She stopped 
before this seat. She enlarged the holes, and dili- 
gently pulled out the long hairs. Suddenly she lifted 
one finger ; that meant, " Listen ! " 

The two brothers turned their heads. A vague, dis- 
tant noise surged up from without : it was probably the 
attacking camp executing some strategic manoeuvre in 
the forest; horses neighed, drums beat, caissons rolled, 
chains clanked, military calls and responses, — a confu- 
sion of savage sounds, whose mingling formed a sort of 
harmony. The children listened in delight. 

" It is the good God who does that," said Eené-Jean. 


THE noise ceased. Eené-Jean remained lost in a 

How do ideas vanish and reform themselves in the 
brains of those little ones? What is the mysterious 
motive of those memories at once so troubled and so 
brief ? There was in that sweet, ' pensive little soul a 
mingling of ideas of the good God, of prayer, of joined 
hands, the light of a tender smile it had formerly known 
and knew no longer; and René- Jean murmured, half 
aloud, " Mamma ! " 

" Mamma ! " repeated Gros -Alain. 

" Mamma ! * cried Georgette. 

Then Eené-Jean began to leap. Seeing this, Gros- 
Alain leaped too. Gross-Alain repeated every movement 
and gesture of his brother. Three years copies four 
years ; but twenty months keeps its independence. 

Georgette remained seated, uttering a word from time 
to time. Georgette could not yet manage sentences. She 
was a thinker ; she spoke in apothegms ; she was mono- 
syllabic. Still, after a little, example proved infectious 
and she ended by trying to imitate her brothers ; and 
these three little pairs of naked feet began to dance, to 
run, to totter amidst the dust of the old polished oak 
floor, beneath the grave aspects of the marble busts 
toward which Georgette from time to time cast an un- 
quiet glance, murmuring " Momommes. " Probably in 
Georgette's language this signified something which 


looked like a man, but yet was not one, — perhaps the first 
glimmering of an idea in regard to phantoms. Georgette, 
oscillating rather than walking, followed her brothers, 
but her favourite mode of locomotion was on all fours. 

Suddenly Eené-Jean, who had gone near a window, 
lifted his head, then dropped it, and hastened to hide 
himself in a corner of the wall made by the projecting 
window recess. He had just caught sight of a man 
looking at him. It was a soldier, from the encampment 
of Blues on the plateau, who profiting by the truce, and 
perhaps infringing it a little, had ventured to the very 
edge of the escarpment, whence the interior of the 
library was visible. Seeing René-Jean hide himself, 
Gros-Alain hid too; he crouched down beside his 
brother, and Georgette hurried to hide herself behind 
them. So they remained, silent, motionless, Georgette 
pressing her finger against her lips. After a few in- 
stants, Eené-Jean ventured to thrust out his head ; the 
soldier was there stiiî. Eené-Jean retreated quickly, 
and the three little ones dared not even breathe. This 
suspense lasted for some time. Finally the fear began 
to bore Georgette ; she gathered courage to look out. 
The soldier had disappeared. They began again to run 
about and play. 

Gros-Alain, although the imitator and admirer of 
Eené-Jean, had a specialty, — that of discoveries. His 
brother and sister saw him suddenly galloping wildly 
about, dragging after him a little cart, which he had 
unearthed behind some box. This doll's wagon had 
lain forgotten for years among the dust, living amicably 
in the neighbourhood of the printed works of genius and 
the busts of sages. It was, perhaps, one of the toys 
that Gauvain had played with when a child. Gros- 
Alain had made a whip of his string, and cracked it 
loudly ; he was very proud. Such are discoverers. The 


child discovers a little wagon; the man, an America : 
the spirit of adventure is the same. 

But it was necessary to share the godsend. Bené- 
Jean wished to harness himself to the carriage, and 
Georgette wished to ride in it. She succeeded in seat- 
ing herself. Bené-Jean was the horse. Gros-Alain was 
the coachman. But the coachman did not understand 
nis business ; the horse began to teach him. Bené-Jean 
shouted, " Say ' Whoa ! ' " 

" Whoa ! " repeated Gros-Alain. 

The carrage upset. Georgette rolled out. CMlcL 
angejs can shriek ; Georgette did so. Then she had a 
vague wish to weep. 

" Miss, " said Bené-Jean, " you are too big. " 

" Me big ! " stammered Georgette. And her size con- 
soled her for her fall. 

The cornice of entablature outside the windows was 
very broad ; the dust blowing from the plain of heath 
had collected there ; the rains had hardened it into soil, 
the wind had brought seeds ; a blackberry-bush had 
profited by the shallow bed to grow up there. This 
bush belpnged to the species called fox blackberry. It 
was August now, and the bush was covered with berries ; 
a branch passed in by the window, and hung down 
nearly to the floor. Gros-Alain, after having discov- 
ered the cord and the wagon, discovered this bramble. 
He went up to it. He gathered a berry and ate. 

" I am hungry, " said Bené-Jean. 

Georgette arrived, galloping up on her hands and 
knees. The three between them stripped the branch, 
and ate all the berries. They stained their faces and 
hands with the purple juice till the trio of little seraph s 
was changed into a knot of little fauns, which would 
have shocked Dante and charmed Virgil. They shrieked 
with laughter. From time to time the thorns pricked 


their fingers. There is always a pain attached to every 
pleasure. Georgette held out her finger to Bené-Jean, 
on which showed a tiny drop of blood, and pointing to 
the bush, said, " P'icks. " 

Gros-Alain, who had suffered also, looked suspi- 
ciously at the branch and said : " It is a beast. " 

" No, " replied Eené-Jean ; " it is a stick. " 

" Then a stick is wicked, " retorted Gros-Alain. 

Again Georgette, though she had a mind to cry, burst 
out laughing. 


IN the mean time René-Jean, perhaps jealous of the 
discoveries made by his younger brother, had con- 
ceived a grand project. For some minutes past, while 
busy eating the berries and pricking his fingers, his eyes 
turned frequently toward the chorister's desk mounted 
on a pivot and isolated like a monument in the centre 
of the library. On this desk lay the celebrated volume 
of " Saint Bartholomew. " It was in truth a magnificent 
and priceless folio. It had been published at Cologne 
by the famous publisher of the edition of the Bible of 
1682, Blœuw, or, in Latin, Cœsius. It was printed, 
not on Dutch paper, but upon that beautiful Arabian 
paper so much admired by Edrisi, which was made of 
silk and cotton and never grew yellow ; the binding was 
of gilt leather, and the clasps of silver ; the boards were 
of that parchment which the parchment sellers of Paris 
took an oath to buy at the Hall Saint Mathurin, * and 
nowhere else. " The volume was full of engravings on 
wood and copper, with geographical maps of many coun- 
tries ; it had on a fly-leaf a protest of the printers, paper- 
makers, and publishers against the edict of 1635, which 
set a tax on " leather, fur, cloven-footed animals, sea-fish, 
and paper ; " and at the back of the frontispiece could be 
read a dedication to the Gryphes, who were to Lyons 
what the Elzevirs were to Amsterdam. These combina- 
tions resulted in a famous copy almost as rare as the 
" Apostol " at Moscow. 


The book was beautiful ; it was for that reason René- 
Jean looked at it, too long perhaps. The volume 
chanced to be open at a great print representing Saint 
Bartholomew carrying his skin over his arm. He could 
see this print where he stood. When the berries were 
all eaten, Eené-Jean watched it with a feverish longing, 
and Georgette, following the direction of her brother's 
eyes, perceived the engraving, and said" Pic 'sure. " 

This exclamation seemed to decide René-Jean. Then, 
to the utter stupefaction of Gros-Alain, an extraordinary 
thing happened. A great oaken chair stood in one cor- 
ner of the library ; René- Jean marched toward it, seized 
and dragged it unaided up to the desk. Then he 
mounted thereon and laid his two hands on the volume. 
Arrived at this summit, he felt a necessity for being 
magnificently generous ; he took hold of the upper end 
of the " pic 'sure " and tore it carefully down. The tear 
went diagonally over the saint, but that was not the 
fault of René- Jean ; it left in the book the left side, one 
eye, and a bit of the halo of the old apocryphal evange- 
list. He offered Georgette the other half of the saint 
and all his skin. Georgette took the saint, and ob- 
served, " Momommes. " 

" And I ! " cried Gros-Alain. 

The tearing of the first page of a book by children is 
like the shedding of the first drop of blood by men, — 
it decides the carnage. René-Jean turned the leaf ; next 
to the saint came the Commentator Pantœnus. René- 
Jean bestowed Pantœnus upon Gros-Alain. Meanwhile 
Georgette tore her large piece into two little morsels, 
then the two into four, and continued her work till his- 
tory might have noted that Saint Bartholomew, after 
having been flayed in Armenia, was torn limb from 
limb in Brittany. 


THE quartering completed, Georgette held out heï 
hand to Bene- Jean, and said, " More I " After 
the saint and the commentator followed portraits of 
frowning glossarists. The first in the procession was 
Gavantus : Eené-Jean tore him out and put Gavantus 
into Georgette's hand. The whole group of Saint Bar- 
tholomew's commentators met the same fate in turn. 

There is a sense of superiority in giving. Kené-Jean 
kept nothing for himself. Gros-Alain and Georgette 
were watching him, — he was satisfied with that ; the 
admiration of his public was reward enough. Eené- 
Jean, inexhaustible in his magnanimity, offered Fabricio 
Pignatelli to Gros-Alain, and Father Stilting to Geor- 
gette ; he followed these by the bestowal of Alphonse 
Tostat on Gros-Alain, and Cornelius a Lapide upon 
Georgette. Then Gros-Alain received Henry Hammond, 
and Georgette received Father Eoberti, together with a 
view of the city of Douai, where that father was born, 
in 1619. Gros- Alain received the protest of the sta- 
tioners, and Georgette obtained the dedication to the 
Gryphes. Then it was the turn of the maps. Eené- 
Jean proceeded to distribute them. He gave Gros- 
Alain Ethiopia, and Lycaonia fell to Georgette. This 
done he tumbled the book upon the floor. 

This was a terrible moment. With mingled ecstasy 
and fright Gros-Alain and Georgette saw Eené-Jean 
wrinkle his brows, stiffen his legs, clinch his fists, and 


push the massive folio off the stand. The majestic old 
tome was fairly a tragic spectacle. Pushed from its 
resting-place, it hung for an instant on the edge of the 
desk, — seemed to hesitate, trying to balance itself, — 
then crashed down, and broken, crumpled, torn, ripped 
from its binding, its clasps fractured, flattened itself 
miserably upon the floor. Fortunately it did not fall 
on the children ; they were only bewildered, not crushed. 
Victories do not always finish so well. Like all glories 
it made a great noise, and left a cloud of dust. 

Having flung the book on the ground, René-Jean de- 
scended from the chair. There was a moment of silence 
and fright; victory has its terrors. The three children 
seized one another's hands and stood at a distance, look- 
ing toward the vast dismantled tome. But after a brief 
reverie Gros-Alain approached it quickly and gave it a 
kick. Nothing more was needed. The appetite for 
destruction grows rapidly. Eené-Jean kicked it, Geor- 
gette dealt a blow with her little foot which overset her, 
though she fell in a sitting position, by which she 
profited to fling herself on Saint Bartholomew. The 
spell was completely broken. René-Jean pounced upon 
the saint, Gros-Alain dashed upon him, and joyous, dis- 
tracted, triumphant, pitiless, tearing the prints, slash- 
ing the leaves, pulling out the markers, scratching the 
binding, ungluing the gilded leather, breaking off the 
nails from the silver corners, ruining the parchment, 
making mince-meat of the august text, working with 
feet, hands, nails, teeth, — rosy, laughing, ferocious, the 
t hree angels of J 3jey demolished the defenceless evange- 
list. They annihilated Armenia, Judea, Benevento, 
where rest the relics of the saipJ- ; Nathaniel, who is 
perhaps the same as Bartholomew ; the Pope Gelasius, 
who declared the Gospel of Saini Bartholomew (Na- 
thaniel) apocryphal ; all the portraits, all th** "maps ; and 


the inexorable massacre of the old book absorbed them 
so entirely that a mouse ran past without their perceiv- 
ing it. It was an extermination. To tear in pieces 
history, legend, science, miracles, whether true or false, 
the Latin of the Church, superstitions, fanaticisms, mys- 
teries, — to rend a whole religion from top to bottom 
would be a work for three giants ; but the three children 
completed it. Hours passed in the labour, but they 
reached the end ; nothing remained of Saint Bartholomew. 

When they had finished, when the last page was 
loosened, the last print lying on the ground, when 
nothing was left of the book but the edges of the text 
and pictures in the skeleton of the binding, Bene- Jean 
sprang to his feet, looked at the floor covered with scat- 
tered leaves, and clapped his hands. Gros-Alain clapped 
his hands likewise. Georgette took one of the pages in 
her hand, rose, leaned against the window-sill, which 
was on a level with her chin, and commenced to tear 
the great leaf into tiny bits, and scatter them out of the 
casement. Seeing this, Eené-Jean and Gros-Alain be- 
gan the same work. They picked up and tore into small 
bits, picked up again and tore, and flung the pieces out 
of the window, as Georgette had done, page by page. 
Eent by these little desperate fingers, the entire ancient 
volume almost flew down the wind. 

Georgette thoughtfully watched these swarms of little 
white papers dispersed by the breeze, and said : " Butter- 

So the massacre ended with these tiny ghosts vanish 
ing in the blue of heaven! 


THUS was Saint Bartholomew for the second time 
made a martyr, — he who had been the first time 
sacrificed in the year of our Lord 49. 

Then the evening came on ; the heat increased ; there 
was sleep in the air. Georgette's eyes began to close: 
René- Jean went to his crib, pulled outkthe straw sack 
which served instead of a mattress, dragged it to the 
window, stretched himself thereon, and said, " Let us 
go to bed. " Gros-Alain laid his head against Bené- 
Jean, Georgette placed hers on Gros- Alain, and the three 
malefactors fell asleep. 

The warm breeze entered by the open windows, the 
perfume of wild flowers from the ravines and hills min- 
gled with the breath of evening. Nature was calm and 
pitiful ; everything beamed, was at peace, full of love ; 
the sun gave its caress, which is light, to all creation ; 
everywhere could be heard and felt that harmony which 
is thrown off from the infinite sweetness of inanimate 
things. There is a motherhood in the infinite, — she 
perfects her grandeur by her goodness ; creation is a 
miracle in full bloom. It seemed as if one could feel 
some invisible Being take those mysterious precautions 
which in the formidable conflict of opposing elements of 
life protect the weak against the strong; at the same 
time there was beauty everywhere, — the splendour 
equalled the gentleness. The landscape that seemed 
asleep had those lovely hazy effects which the changings 


of light and shadow produce on the fields and rivers, 
the mists mounted toward the clouds like reveries 
changing into dreams ; the birds circled noisily about 
La Tourgue ; the swalluws looksc! in through the win- 
dows, as if they wished to be certain that the children 
slept well. 

They were prettily grouped upon one another, motion- 
less, half-naked, posed like little Cupids ; they were 
adorable and pure ; the united ages of the three did not 
make nine years. * They were dreaming dreams of para- 
dise, which were reflected on their lips in vague smiles. 
Perchance God whispered in their ears. They were of 
those whom all human languages call the weak and 
blessed ; they were made majestic by innocence. All 
was silence about them, as if the breath from their tender 
bosoms was the care of the universe, and listened to by 
the whole creation ; the leaves did not rustle, the grass 
did not stir. It seemed as if the vast starry world held 
its breath for fear of disturbing these three humble an- 
gelic sleepers, and nothing could have been so sublime 
as that reverent respect of Nature in presence of this 

The sun was near its setting ; it almost touched the 
horizon. Suddenly, across this profound peace burst a 
lightning-like glare, which came from the forest ; then 
a savage noise. A cannon had just been fired. The 
echoes seized upon this thundering, and repeated it with 
an infernal din; the prolonged growling from hill to 
hill was terrible. It woke Georgette. She raised her 
head slightly, lifted her little finger, and said : " Boom ! " 
The noise died away ; the silence swept back ; Georgette 
laid her head on Gros-Alain, and fell asleep once more. 





WHEN" this evening came, the mother whom we 
saw wandering almost at random had walked 
the whole day. This was indeed the history of all her 
days, — to go straight before her without stopping. For 
her slumbers of exhaustion, given in to in any corner 
that chanced to be nearest, were no more rest than the 
morsels she ate here and there (as the birds pick up 
crumbs) were nourishment. She ate and slept just what 
was absolutely necessary to keep her from falling down 
dead. She had passed the previous night in an empty 
barn ; civil wars leave many such. She had found in a 
bare field four walls, an open door, a little straw be- 
neath the ruins of a roof; and she had slept on the 
straw under the rafters, feeling the rats slip about be- 
neath, and watching the stars rise through the gaping 
wreck above. She slept for several hours ; then she 
woke in the middle of the night and set out again in 
order to get over as much road as possible before the 
great heat of the day should set in. For any one who 
travels on foot in the summer, midnight is more fitting 
than noon. 


She had followed to the best of her ability the brief 
itinerary the peasant of Yautortes had marked out for 
her: she had gone as straight as possible toward the 
west. Had there been any one near, he might have 
heard her ceaselessly murmur, half aloud, " La Tourgue. " 
Except the names of her children, this word was all she 
knew. As she walked, she dreamed. She thought of 
the adventures with which she had met; she thought 
of all she had suffered, all which she had accepted, — 
of the meetings, the indignities, the terms offered; the 
bargains proposed and submitted to, — now for a shelter, 
now for a morsel of bread, sometimes simply to obtain 
from some one information as to her route. A wretched 
woman is more unfortunate than a wretched man, for 
she may be a prey to lust. Frightful wandering march ! 
But nothing mattered to her, provided she could discover 
her children. 

Her first encounter this day had been a village. The 
dawn was beginning to break ; everything was still 
tinged with the gloom of night. A few doors were al- 
ready half open in the principal streets, and curious 
faces looked out of the windows ; the inhabitants were 
agitated like a disturbed bee-hive : this arose from a 
noise of wheels and chains which had been heard. On 
the church square a frightened group with their heads 
raised, watched something descend a high hill along the 
road toward the village. It was a four-wheeled wagon 
drawn by five horses, harnessed with chains. On this 
wagon could be distinguished a heap like a pile of long 
joists, in the middle of which lay some shapeless object, 
covered with a large canvas resembling a pall. Ten 
horsemen rode in front of the wagon, and ten others be- 
hind; these men wore three-cornered hats, and above 
their shoulders rose what seemed to be the points of 
naked sabres. This whole cortege, advancing slowly 


showed black and distinct against the horizon , the 
wagon looked black, the harness looked black, the horse- 
men looked black. Behind them gleamed the pallor of 
the morning. They entered the village and moved 
toward the square. Daylight had come on while the 
wagon was going down the hill, and the cortege could 
be distinctly seen ; it was like watching a procession of 
shadows, for not a man in the party uttered a word. 
The horsemen were gendarmes ; they did in truth carry 
drawn sabres. The cover was black. 

The wretched wandering mother entered the village 
from the opposite side, and approached the mob of peas- 
ants at the moment the gendarmes and the wagon reached 
the square. Among the crowd, voices whispered ques- 
tions and replies : — 

" What is it ? " 

" The guillotine. " 

" Whence does it come ? " 

" From Fougères. " 

" Where is it going ? " 

" I do not know. They say to a castle in the neigh- 
bourhood of Parigné. " 

" Parigné. " 

" Let it go where it likes, provided it does not stop 
here. " 

This great cart, with its lading hidden by a sort of 
shroud ; this team, these gendarmes, the noise of the 
chains, the silence of the men, the grey dawn, — all 
made up a whole that was spectral. The group trav- 
ersed the square and passed out of the village. The 
hamlet lay in a hollow between two hills : at the end 
of a quarter of an hour, the peasants, who had stood 
still as if petrified, saw the lugubrious procession reap- 
pear on the summit of the western hill ; the heavy 
wheels jolted along the ruts, the chains clanked in the 


morning wind, the sabres shone in the rising sun, — 
then the road turned off, and the cortege disappeared. 

It was the very moment when Georgette woke in the 
library by the side of her still sleeping brothers, and 
wished her rosy feet £ood -morning. 



HHHE mother watched this mysterious procession, but 
-*- neither comprehended nor sought to understand; 
her eyes were busy with another visiou, — her children, 
lost amidst the darkness. She went out of the village 
also, a little after the cortege which had filed past, and 
followed the same route at some distance behind the 
second squad of gendarmes. Suddenly the word " guil- 
lotine" recurred to her. " Guillotine! " she said to her- 
self. This rude peasant, Michelle Fléchard, did not 
know what that was, but instinct warned her. She 
shivered without being able to tell wherefore ; it seemed 
horrible to her to walk behind this thing and she turned 
to the left, quitted the high-road, and passed into a 
wood, which was the forest of Fougères. After wander- 
ing for some time, she perceived a belfry and some roofs ; 
it was one of the villages scattered along the edge of the 
forest. She went toward it ; she was hungry. It was 
one of the villages in which the republicans had estab- 
lished military posts. She passed on to the square in 
front of the mayoralty. 

In this village there was also fright and anxiety. A 
crowd pressed up to the flight of steps. On the top step 
stood a man, escorted by soldiers ; he held in his hand 
a great open placard ; at his right was stationed a drum- 
mer, at his left a bill-sticker, carrying a paste-pot and 
brush. Upon the balcony over the door appeared the 


mayor, wearing a tricoloured scarf over his peasant 
dress. The man with the placard was a public crier. 
He wore his shoulder-belt, with a small wallet hanging 
from it, — a sign that he was going from village to vil- 
lage, and had something to publish throughout the dis- 
trict. At the moment Michelle Fléchard approached, 
he had unfolded the placard, and was beginning to read. 
He read in a loud voice : — 


The drum beat. There was a sort of movement among 
the assembly. A few took off their caps ; others pulled 
their hats closer over their heads. At that time and in 
that country one could almost recognize the political 
opinions of a man by his head-gear : hats were roval- 
ist ; caps republican. The confused murmur of voices 
ceased ; everybody listened ; the crier read : — ■ 

" In virtue of the orders we have received, and the author- 
ity delegated to us by the Committee of Public Safety — " 

The drum beat the second time. The crier con- 
tinued : — 

" And in execution of the decree of the National Conven- 
tion, which puts beyond the law all rebels taken with arms in 
their hands, and which ordains capital punishment to whom- 
soever shall give them shelter or help them to escape — " 

A peasant asked, in a low voice of his neighbour: 
"What is that, — capital punishment?" 
His neighbour replied : " I do not know. " 
The crier fluttered the placard : — 

" In accordance with Article 17th of the law of April 30, 
which gives full power to delegates and sub-delegates against 
rebels, we declare outlaws — ?; 

He made a pause, and resumed : — 


" The individuals known under the names and surnames 
which follow — " 

The whole assemblage listened intently. The crier's 
voice sounded like thunder. He read : — 

" Lantenac, brigand — " 

" That is Monseigneur, " murmured a peasant And 
through the whole crowd went the whisper : " It is 
Monseigneur. n Tho crier resumed : — 

Lantenac, ci-devant marquis, brigand. Imânus, brig- 


Two peasants glanced sideways at each other. 
" That is Gouge-le-Bruant. " 

* Yes ; it is Brise-Bleu. " 

The crier continued to read the list : - — 

11 Grand Francœur, brigand — " 

The assembly murmured,— 
" He is a priest. M 
" Yes ; the Abbé Turmeau. " 

" Yes ; he is curé somewhere in the neighbourhood o\ 
the wood of Chapelle. " 

" And brigand, " said a man in a cap. 
The crier read : — 

" Boisnouveau, brigand. The two brothers, Pique-en-Bois 
brigands, Houzard, brigand — " 

" That is Monsieur de Quelen, " said a peasant 

" Panier, brigand — " 

" That is Monsieur Sepher. 5;( 
" Place Nette, brigand — " 

* That is Monsieur Jamois. * 


The crier continued his reading without noticing these 
commentaries : — 

* < Guinoiseau, brigand. Chatenay, styled Robi, brigand — n 

A peasant whispered : " Guinoiseau is the same as Le 
Blond ; Chatenay is from Saint Ouen. " 

" Hoisnard, brigand — " pursued the crier. 

Among the crowd could be heard, — 
" He is from Ruillé. " 
" Yes ; it is Branche d'Or. " 

" His brother was killed in the attack on Fontorson. " 
" Yes ; Hoisnard Malonnière. " 
" A fine young chap of nineteen. " 
" Attention ! " said the crier. " Listen to the last of 
the list : — 

" Belle Vigue, brigand. La Musette, brigand. Sabre- 
tout, brigand. Brin d'Amour — " 

A îad nudged -the elbow of a young girl. The girl 

The crier continued :- — 

' ' Chante-en-Hiver, brigand. Le Chat, brigand — " 

A peasant said, " That is Moulard. " 

u Tabouze, brigand — ,? 

Another peasant said : " That is Gauffre. " 
" There are two of the Gauffres, " added a woman. 
" Both good fellows, " grumbled a lad. 
The crier shook the placard, and the drum beat. The 
crier resumed his reading : — 

"The above-named, in whatsoever place taken, and theiï 
identity established, shall be immediately put to death." 


There was a movement among the crowd. The crier 

went on : — - 

" Any one affording them shelter or aiding their escape, 
will be brought before a court-martial and put to death. 
Signed — " 

The silence grew profound. 

"The Delegate of the Committee of Public Safety, 


" A priest, " said a peasant 

" The former curé of Parigné, " said another. 

A townsman added, " Turmeau and Cimourdain — 
A Blue priest and a White. " 

" Both black, " said another townsman. 

The mayor, who was on the balcony lifted his hat s 
and cried : " Long live the Eepublic ! " 

A roll of the drum announced that the crier had not 

He was making a sign with his hand. " Attention ! " 
said he. " Listen to the last four lines of the Govern- 
ment proclamation. They are signed by the Chief of 
the exploring column of the North Coasts, Commandant 
Gauvain. " 

" Listen ! " exclaimed the voices of the crowd. And 
the crier read : — 

" Under pain of death — " 

All were silent. 

"It is forbidden, in pursuance of the above order, to give 
aid or succour to the nineteen rebels above named, at this 
time shut up and surrounded in La Tourgue." 

" What ? " cried a voice. It was the voice of a 
woman ; of the mother. 



MICHELLE FLÉCHAED had mingled with the 
crowd. She had listened to nothing, but one 
hears certain things without listening. She caught the 
words " La Tourgue. " She raised her head. " What ? " 
she repeated " La Tourgue ! " 

People stared at her. She appeared out of her mind. 
She was in rags. Voices murmured, " She looks like a 
brigand. " A peasant woman, who carried a basket of 
buckwheat biscuits, drew near, and said to her in a low 
voice : " Hold your tongue ! " 

Michelle Fléchard gazed stupidly at the woman. 
Again she understood nothing. The name La Tourgue 
had passed through her mind like a flash of lightning 
and the darkness closed anew behind it. Had she not a 
right to ask information ? What had she done that they 
should stare at her in this way ? 

But the drum had beat for the last time ; the bill- 
sticker posted up the placard ; the mayor retired into 
the house ; the crier set out for some other village, and 
the mob dispersed. A group remained before the pla- 
card ; Michelle Fléchard joined this knot of people. 
They were commenting on the names of the men de- 
clared outlaws. There were peasants and townsmen 
among them ; that is to say, Whites and Blues. 

A peasant said : " After all, they have not caught 
everybody. Nineteen are only nineteen. They have 


not got Kiou, they have not got Benjamin Moulins, nor 
Goupil of the parish of Andouillé. " 

" Nor Lorieul of Monjean, " said another. 

Others added, — 

" Nor Brice Denys. " 

" Nor François Dudouet. * 

" Yes, him of Laval. " 

" Nor Huet of Launey Yilliers. " 

" Nor Grégis. " 

"Nor Pilon." 

• Nor Filleul. " 

" Nor Ménicent. " 

" Nor Guéharrée. n 

" Nor the three brothers Logerais. n 

" Nor Monsieur Lechandelier de Pierreville. " 

" Idiots ! " said a stern-faced, white-haired old man. 
" They have all if they have Lantenac. " 

" They have not got him yet, " murmured one of the 
young men. 

The old man added : " Lantenac taken, the soul is 
taken. Lantenac dead, La Vendée is slain. " 

" Who, then, is this Lantenac ? " asked a townsman. 

A townsman replied : " He is a ci-devant. " 

Another added : " He is one of those who shoot 
women. " 

Michelle Fléchard heard and said : " It is true. " 

They turned toward her. 

She went on : " For he shot me. " 

It was a strange speech ; it was like hearing a living 
woman declare herself dead. People began to look at 
her a little suspiciously. She was indeed a startling 
object ; trembling at everything, scared, quakiag, show- 
ing a sort of wild-animal trouble, so frightened that she 
was frightful. There is always something terrible in 
the feebleness of a despairing woman ; she is a creature 


who has reached the furthest limits of destiny. But 
peasants have not a habit of noticing details. One of 
them muttered, " She might easily be a spy. " 

" Hold your tongue and get away from here, " the 
good woman who had already spoken to her said in a 
low tone. Michelle Fléchard replied : " I am doing no 
harm. I am looking for my children. " 

The good woman glanced at those who were staring at 
Michelle, touched her forehead with one finger and 
winked, saying : " She is a simpleton. " Then she took 
her aside and gave her a biscuit. Michelle Fléchard, 
without thanking her, began to eat greedily. 

" Yes, " said the peasants, " she eats like an animal ; 
she is an idiot. " So the tail of the mob dwindled away. 
They all went away, one after another. 

When Michelle Fléchard had devoured her biscuit, 
she said to the peasant woman : " Good ! I have eaten. 
ISTow where is La Tourgue ? " 

" It is taking her again ! " cried the peasant. 

" I must go to La Tourgue ! Show me the way to La 
Tourgue ! " 

"Never!" exclaimed the peasant. "Do you want to 
get yourself killed, eh ? Besides, I don't know. Oh, 
see here ! You are really crazy ! Listen, poor woman,, 
you look tired. Will you come to my house and rest 
yourself ? " 

" I never rest, " said the mother. 

" And her feet are torn to pieces ! " murmured the 

Michelle Fléchard resumed: "Don't I tell you that 
they have stolen my children ? — a little girl and two 
boys. I come from the carnichot in the forest. You 
can ask Tellmarch the Caimand about me, and the man 
I met in the field down yonder. It was the Caimand 
who cured me ; it seems I had something broken. A1Î 


that is what happened to me. Then there is Sergeant 
Eadoub besides, — you can ask him, he will tell thee. 
Why, he was the one we met in the wood. Three, — I 
tell you three children! even the oldest one's name, 
— Eené-Jean. I can prove all that. The other's name 
is Gros -Alain, and the little girl's is Georgette. My 
husband is dead, — they killed him ; he was the farmer 
at Siscoignard. You look like a good woman, — show 
me the road ! I am not crazy ; I am a mother ! I have 
lost my children; I am trying to find them, — that is 
all. I don't know exactly which way I have come. I 
slept last night in a barn on the straw. La Tourgue, 
that is where I am going. I am not a thief. You must 
see that I am telling the truth ; you ought to help me 
find my children. I do not belong to the neighbour- 
hood. I was shot, but I do not know where. " 

The peasant shook her head, and said : " Listen, trav- 
eller. In times of revolution you mustn't say things 
that cannot be understood ; you may get yourself taken 
up in that way. " 

" But La Tourgue ! " cried the mother. " Madame, 
for the love of the Child Jesus and the Blessed Virgin 
up in Paradise, I beg you, madame, I entreat you, I 
conjure you, tell me which way I must go to get to La 
Tourgue ! " 

The peasant woman went into a passion. " I do not 
know ! And if I knew I would not tell ! It is a bad 
place. People do not go there. " 

" But I am going, " said the mother. And she set 
forth again. 

The woman watched her depart, muttering, " Still, 
she must have something to eat. " She ran after 
Michelle Fléchard and put a roll of black bread in her 
hand : " There is for your supper. " 

Michelle Fléchard took the buckwheat bread, did not 


answer, did not turn her head, but walked on. She 
went out of the village. As she reached the last houses 
she met three ragged, barefooted little children. She 
approached them, and said : " These are two girls and 
a boy. " Noticing that they looked at the bread, she 
gave it to them. The children took the bread, then 
grew frightened. She plunged into the forest. 



(~\N the same morning, before the dawn appeared, 
^-^ this happened amidst the obscurity of the forest, 
along the crossroad which goes from Javené to Lécousse. 
. All the roads of the Breage are between high banks , 
but of all the routes, that leading from Javené to 
Parigné by the way of Lécousse is the most deeply em- 
bedded. Besides that, it is winding; it is a ravine 
rather than a road. This road comes from Vitré, and 
had the honour of jolting Madame de Sévigné's carriage. 
It is, as it were, walled in to the right and left by 
hedges. There could be no better place for an ambush. 

On this morning, an hour before Michelle Fléchard 
from another point of the forest reached the first village 
where she had seen the sepulchral apparition of the 
wagon escorted by gendarmes, a crowd of men filled 
the copses where the Javené road crosses the bridge over 
the Couesnon. The branches hid them. These men were 
peasants, all wearing jackets of skins, which the kings 
of Brittany wore in the sixth century and the peasants 
in the eighteenth. The men were armed, — some with 
guns, others with axes. Those who carried axes had 
just prepared in an open space a sort of pyre of dried 
fagots and billets, which only remained to be set on 
fire ; those who had guns were stationed at the two sides 
of the road in watchful positions. Anybody who could 
have looked through the leaves would have seen every- 


where fingers on triggers, and guns aimed toward the 
openings left by the interlacing branches. These men 
were on the watch. All the guns converged toward the 
road, which the first gleams of day had begun to whiten. 
In this twilight low voices held converse: — ■ 

" Are you sure of that ? " 

" Well, they say so. " 

" She is about to pass ? " 

" They say she is in the neighbourhood. " 

" She must not go out. " 

" She must be burned. " 

" We are three villages who have come out for that. 5> 

" Yes ; but the escort ? " 

" The escort will be killed. " 

" But will she pass by this road ? * 

" They say so'. " 

" Then she comes from Vitré ?" 

" Why not ? " 

" But somebody said she was coming from Fougères. " 

" Whether she comes from Fougères or Vitré, she 
comes from the devil. " 

" Yes. " 

" And must go back to him. " 

" Yes. " 

" So she is going to Parigné ? " 

" It appears so. * 

" She will not go. " 

" No. " 

"No, no, no!" 

" Attention. " 

" It became prudent now to be silent, for the day was 
breaking. Suddenly these ambushed men held their 
breath; they caught a sound of wheels and horses' feet. 
They peered through the branches, and could perceive 
indistinctly a long wagon, an escort on horseback, and 


something on the wagon, coming toward them along the 
high-banked road. 

" There she is, " said one, who appeared to be the 

" Yes, " said one of the scouts ; u with the escort. " 

" How many men ? " 

" Twelve. " 

" We were told they were twenty. " 

" Twelve or twenty, we must kill the whole. " 

" Wait till they get within sure aim. " 

A little later, the wagon and its escort appeared at a 
turn in the road. " Long live the king ! " cried the 
chief peasant. A hundred guns were fired at the same 

When the smoke scattered, the escort was scattered 
also. Seven horsemen had fallen ; five had fled. The 
peasants rushed up to the wagon. 

" Hold ! " cried the chief ; " it is not the guillotine ! 
It is a ladder. " 

A long ladder was, in fact, all the wagon carried. 
The two horses had fallen wounded; the driver had 
been killed, but not intentionally. 

" All the same, " said the chief ; " a ladder with an 
escort looks suspicious. It was going toward Parigné. 
It was for the escalade of La Tourgue, very sure. " 

" Let us burn the ladder ! " cried the peasants. 

And they burned the ladder. As for the funereal 
wagon for which they had been waiting, it was pursuing 
another road, and was already two leagues off, in the 
village where Michelle Fléchard saw it pass at sunrise. 



WHEN Michelle Fléchard left the three children 
to whom she had given her bread, she took her 
way at random through the wood. Since nobody would 
point out the road, she must find it out for herself. 
Now and then she sat down, then rose, then reseated 
herself again. She was borne down by that terrible 
fatigue which first attacks the muscles, then passes into 
the bones, — weariness like that of a slave. She was a 
slave in truth, — the slave of her lost children. She 
must find them ; each instant that elapsed might be to 
their hurt. Whoso has a duty like this woman's has no 
rights ; it is forbidden even to stop to take breath. But 
she was very tired. In the extreme of exhaustion which 
she had reached, another step became a question, — Can 
one make it ? She had walked all the day, encountering 
no other village, not even a house. She took first the 
right path, then a wrong one, ending by losing herself 
amidst leafy labyrinths, resembling one another pre- 
cisely. Was she approaching her goal ? Was she near- 
ing the term of her Passion ? She was in the Via 
Dolorosa, and felt the overwhelming of the last station. 
Was she about to fall in the road, and die there ? There 
came a moment when to advance farther seemed impos- 
sible to her. The sun was declining, the forest growing 
dark ; the paths were hidden beneath the grass, and she 
was helpless. She had nothing left but God. She be- 
gan to call; no voice answered. 


She looked about; she perceived an opening in the 
branches, turned in that direction, and found herself 
suddenly on the edge of the wood. She had before her 
a valley, narrow as a trench, at the bottom of which a 
clear streamlet ran along over the stones. She discov- 
ered then she was burning with thirst; she went down 
to the stream, knelt by it, and drank. She took advan- 
tage of her kneeling position to say her prayers. 

When she rose she tried to decide upon a course. She 
crossed the brook. Beyond the little valley stretched, 
as far as the eye could reach, a plateau covered with 
short underbrush, which, starting from the brook, as- 
cended in an inclined plain, and filled the whole hori- 
zon. The forest had been a solitude ; this plain was a 
desert. . Behind every bush of the forest she might meet 
some one ; on the plateau, as far as she could see, noth- 
ing met her gaze. A few birds, which seemed fright- 
ened, were flying away over the heath. Then, in the 
midst of this awful abandonment, feeling her knees give 
way under her, and, as if gone suddenly mad, the dis- 
tracted mother flung forth this strange cry into the 
silence : " Is there any one here ? " 

She waited for an answer. It came. A low, deep 
voice burst forth ; it proceeded from the verge of the 
horizon, was borne forward from echo to echo ; it was 
either a peal of thunder or a cannon, and it seemed as 
if the voice replied to the mother's question, and that 
it said, " Yes. " Then the silence closed in 'anew. 

The mother rose, animated with fresh life. There 
was some one ; it seemed to her as if she had now some 
person with whom she could speak. She had just drank 
and prayed ; her strength came back ; she began to as- 
cend the plateau in the direction whence she had heard 
that vast and far-off voice. Suddenly she saw a lofty 
tower start up on the extreme edge of the horizon. Ifc 


was the only object visible amidst the savage landscape ; 
a ray from the setting sun crimsoned its summit. It 
was more than a league away. Behind the tower spread 
a great sweep of scattered verdure lost in the mist : it 
was the forest of Fougères. This tower appeared to her 
to be the point whence came the thundering which had 
sounded like a summons in her ear. Was it that which 
had given the answer to her cry ? 

Michelle Fléchard reached the top of the plateau ; 
she had nothing but the plain before her. She walked 
toward the tower. 



Vol. IL 

BOOK IV. — (Continued.) 

Chaptrr Page 

VI. The Situation 4 1 

VIL Preliminaries » 5 

VIII. The Word and the Roar 10 

IX. Titans against Giants 15 

X. Radoub 20 

XI. Desperate . . . . , 28 

XII. Deliverance 32 

XIII. The Executioner 35 

XIV. Imanus also Escapes 38 

XV. Never put a Watch and a Key in the same 

Pocket 41 

BOOK V. — In Demons Dbtjs. 

I. Eound, but Lost . 45 

II. Prom the Door of Stone to the Iron Door . . 54 
III- Where we see the Children wake that we saw 

go asleep . 57 

BOOK VI. — After the Victory the Combat begins. 

I. Lantenac taken 63 

II. Gauvain's Self-Questioning . 66 

III. The Commandant's Mantle SO 


BOOK VII. — Feudality and Kevolution. 
Chapter Pagb 

I. The Ancestor 83 

II. The Court-Martial » 92 

III. The Votes 96 

IV. After Cimourdain the Judge comes Cimourdain 

the Master 102 

V. The Dungeon .■ ■ ■' t 104 

VI. When the Sun rose • . • 114 



Vol. II. 



Pierrot carrying off Marie 63 

" Who can tell if the bullets of the enemy may not 

have spared his head for his country's guillotine ? " 211 

Claude Gueux addressing his Companions 11 


BOOK IV. (Continued.) 



THE moment had come. The inexorable held the 
pitiless. Cimourdain had Lantenac in his hand. 

The old royalist rebel was taken in his form ; it was 
evident that he could not escape, and Cimourdain meant 
that the marquis should be beheaded here, — upon his 
own territory, his own lands, — on this very spot, in 
sight of his ancestral dwelling-place, that the feudal 
stronghold might see the head of the feudal lord fall, 
and the example thus be made memorable. It was with 
this intention that he had sent to Fougères for the guil- 
lotine, which we lately saw upon its road. To kill Lan- 
'tenac 'was to slay the Vendée ; to slay the Vendée was 
to save France. Cimourdain did not hesitate. The 
conscience of this man was quiet; he was urged to 
ferocity by a sense of duty. 

The marquis appeared lost; as far as that went, 
Cimourdain was tranquil. But there was a considera- 
tion which troubled him. The struggle must inevitably 
be a terrible one. Gauvain would direct it, and perhaps 
would wish to take part. This young chief was a sol- 



dier at heart ; he was just the man to fling himself into 
the thick of this pugilistic combat. If he should be 
killed, — Gauvain, his child ! the unique affection he 
possessed on earth ! So far fortune had protected the 
youth ; but fortune might grow weary. Cimourdain 
trembled. His strange destiny had placed him here be- 
tween these two Gauvains, — for one of whom he wished 
death, for the other life. 

The cannon-shot which had roused Georgette in her 
cradle and summoned the mother in the depths of her 
solitude had done more than that. Either by accident, 
or owing to the intention of the man who fired the piece, 
the ball, although only meant as a warning, had struck 
the guard of iron bars which protected the great loop- 
hole of the first ^oor of the tower, broken it and half 
wrenched it away. The besieged had not had time to 
repair this damage. 

The besieged had been boastful, but they had very 
little ammunition. Their situation, indeed, was much 
more critical than the besiegers supposed. If they had 
had powder enough they would have blown up La 
Tourgue when th^y and the enemy should be together 
within it; this had been their dream. But their re- 
serves W9re exhausted ; they had not more than thirty 
charges left for each man. They had plenty of guns, 
blunderbusses, and pistols, but few cartridges. They 
had loaded all the weapons in order to keep up a steady 
fire; but how long could this steady firing last? They 
must lavishly exhaust the resources which they required 
to husband. That was the difficulty. Fortunately 
(sinister fortune) the struggle would be mostly man to 
man ; sabre and poniard would be more needed than fire- 
arms. The conflict would be rather a duel with knives 
than a battle with guns. This was the hope of the 


The interior of the tower seemed impregnable. In 
the lower hall, which the mine had breached, the re- 
tirade so skilfully constructed guarded the entrance. 
Behind the retirade was a long table covered with loaded 
weapons, blunderbusses, carbines, and muskets ; sabres, 
axes, and poniards. Since they had no powder to blow 
up the tower, the crypt of the oubliettes could not be 
utilized ; therefore the marquis had closed the door of 
the dungeon. Above the ground-floor hall was the 
round chamber which could only be reached by the 
narrow, winding staircase. This chamber (in which 
there also set a table covered with loaded weapons ready 
to the hand) was lighted by the great loop-hole, the 
grating of which had just been broken by the cannon- 
ball. From this chamber the spiral staircase ascended 
to the circular room on the second floor, in which was 
the iron door communicating with the bridge-castle. 
This chamber was called indifferently the " room with 
the iron door, " or the " mirror-room, " from numerous 
small looking-glasses hung to rusty old nails on the 
naked stones of the wall, — a fantastic mingling of ele- 
gance and savage desolation. Since the apartments on 
the upper floor could not be successfully defended, this 
mirror-room became what Manesson Mallet, the law- 
giver in regard to fortified places, calls " the last post 
where the besieged can capitulate. " The struggle, as 
we have already said, would be to keep the assailants 
from reaching this room. This second-floor round cham- 
ber was lighted by loop-holes ; still, a torch burned 
there. This torch, in an iron holder like the one in the 
hall below, had been kindled by Imanus, and the end 
of the sulphur-match placed near it. Terrible careful- 
ness ! At the end of the ground-floor hall was a board 
placed upon trestles, which held food, like the arrange- 
ment in a Homeric cavern; great dishes of rice, fur- 


mety of black grain, hashed veal, hotchpotch, biscuits, 
stewed fruit, and jugs of cider. Whoever wished could 
eat and drink. 

The cannon-shot set them all on the watch. Not more 
than a half hour of quiet remained to them. From the 
top of the tower Imânus watched the approach of the 

Lantenac had ordered his men not to fire as the 
assailants came forward. He said : " They are four 
thousand five hundred. To kill outside is useless. 
When they try to enter, we are as strong as they. " 
Then he laughed, and added : " Equality, Fraternity. " 

It had been agreed that Imânus should sound a warn- 
ing on his horn when the enemy began to advance. The 
little troop, posted behind the retirade or on the stairs, 
waited with one hand on their muskets, the other on 
their rosaries. 

This was what the situation had resolved itself into : 
For the assailants a breach to mount, a barricade to 
force, three rooms (one above the other) to take in suc- 
cession by main strength, two winding staircases to be 
carried step by step under a storm of bullets. For the 
besieged — to die ! 



GAUVAIN on his side arranged the order of attack. 
He gave * his last instructions to Cimourdain, 
whose part in the action, it will be remembered, was to 
guard the plateau, and to Guéchamp, who was to wait 
with the main body of the army in the forest camp. It 
was understood that neither the masked battery of the 
wood nor the open battery of the plateau would fire un- 
less there should be a sortie or an attempt at escape on 
the part of the besieged. Gauvain had reserved for him- 
self the command of the storming column. It was 
that which troubled Cimourdain. 

The sun had just set. A tower in an open country 
resembles a ship in open sea. It must be attacked in 
the same manner : it is a boarding rather than an as- 
sault. No cannon; nothing useless attempted. What 
would be the good of cannonading walls fifteen feet 
thick ? A port-hole ; men forcing it on the one side, 
men guarding it on the other ; axes, knives, pistols, 
fists, and teeth, — that is the undertaking. 

Gauvain felt that there was no other way of carrying 
La Tourgue. Nothing can be more murderous than a 
conflict so close that the combatants look into one an- 
other's eyes. He had lived in this tower when a child, 
and knew its formidable recesses by heart. He medi- 
tated profoundly. 

A few paces from him his lieutenant, Guéchamp, 
stood with a spy-glass in his hand, examining the hori- 


zon in the direction of Parigné. Suddenly he cried 
" Ah ! at last ! " 

This exclamation aroused Gauvain from his reverie, 
■ What is it, Guéchamp ? " 

" Commandant, the ladder is coming. " 

" The escape-ladder ? " 

■ Yes. " 

" How ? It has not yet got here ? " 

" No, Commandant And I was troubled. The ex- 
press that I sent to Javené came back. " 

" I know it. " 

" He told me that he had found at the carpenter's 
shop in Javené a ladder of the requisite dimensions ; he 
took it ; he had it put on a cart ; he demanded an escort 
of twelve horsemen, and he saw them set out from 
Parigné, — the cart, the escort, and the ladder. Then 
he rode back full speed, and made his report; and he 
added that the horses being good and the departure hav- 
ing taken place about two o'clock in the morning the 
wagon would be here before sunset. " 

" I know all that. Well ? " 

" Well, Commandant, the sun has just set, and the 
wagon which brings the ladder has not yet arrived. " 

" Is it possible ? Still, we must commence the attack. 
The hour has come. If we were to wait, the besieged 
would think we hesitated. " 

" Commandant, the attack can commence. '" 

" But the escape-ladder is necessary. " 

" Without doubt. " 

" But we have not got it. " 

" We have it. " 

" How ? " 

" Tt was that which made me say, ' Ah ! at last ! * The 
itfagon did not arrive ; I took my telescope, and exam- 
ined the route from Parigné to La Tourgue, and, Com- 


mandant, I am satisfied. The wagon and the escort are 
coming down yonder ; they are descending a hill. You 
can see them. " 

Gauvain took the glass and looked. " Yes ; there it 
is. There is not light enough to distinguish very 
clearly. But 'I can see the escort, — it is certainly that. 
Only the escort appears to me more numerous than you 
said, Guéchamp. " 

" And to me also. " 

" They are about a quarter of a league off. " 

" Commandant, the escape-ladder will be here in a 
quarter of an hour. " 

" We can attack. " 

It was indeed a wagon which they saw approaching, 
but not the one they believed. As Gauvain turned he 
saw Sergeant Eadoub standing behind him, upright, his 
eyes downcast, in the attitude of military salute. 

" What is it, Sergeant Eadoub ? " 

" Citizen commandant, we, the men of the Battal- 
ion of the Bonnet Eouge, have a favour to ask of 
you. • 

" What ? " 

" To have us killed. " 

* Ah ! " said Gauvain. 

" Will you have that kindness ? " 

* But — that is according to circumstances, " said 

" Listen, Commandant. Since the affair of Pol, you 
are careful of us. We are still twelve. " 

" Well ?" 

" That humiliates us. " 

" You are the reserve. " 

" We would rather be the advance-guard. " 

" But I need you to decide success at the close of the 
engagement. I keep you back for that. 


" Too much. " 

" No. You are in the column. You march. * 

a In the rear. Paris has a right to march in front * 

* I will think of it, Sergeant Eadoub. " 

" Think of it to-day, my commandant. There is an 
opportunity. There are going to be hard blows to give 
or to take. It will be lively. La Tourgue will burn 
the fingers of those that touch her. We demand the 
favour of being in the party. " The sergeant paused, 
twisted his moustache, and added, in an altered voice : 
" Besides, look you, my commandant, our little ones are 
in this tower. Our children are there, — the children of 
the battalion, — our three children. That abominable 
beast called Brise-Bleu and Imânus, this Gouge-le- 
Bruant, this Bouge-le-Gruant, this Fouge-le-Truant, 
this thunder-clap of the devil, threatens our children. 
Our children, — our pets, Commandant. If all the earth- 
quakes should mix in the business, we cannot have any 
misfortune happen to them. Do you hear that — author- 
ity ? We will have none of it. A little while ago I took 
advantage of the truce, and mounted the plateau, and 
looked at them through a window ; yes, they are cer- 
tainly there, — you can see them from the edge of the 
ravine. I did see them, and they were afraid of me, 
the darlings. Commandant, if a single hair of their 
little cherub pates should fall, I swear by the thousand 
names of everything sacred, — I, Sergeant Eadoub, — 
that I will have revenge out of somebody. And that is 
what all the battalion say : either we want the babies 
saved, or we want to be all killed. It is our right : yes 
•— all killed. And now, salute and respect. " 

Gauvain held out his hand to Eadoub, and said : 
K You are brave men. You shall have a place in the 
attacking column. I will divide you into two parties. 
I will put six of you in the vanguard to make sure that 


the troops advance, and six in the rear-guard to make 
sure that nobody retreats. " 

a Shall I command the twelve, as usual ? " 

" Certainly. " 

" Then, my commandant, thanks. For I am of the 
vanguard. " 

Eadoub made another military salute, and went back 
to his company. 

Gauvain drew out his watch, spoke a few words in 
Guéchamp's ear, and the storming column began to 



NOW, Cimourdain, who had not yet gone to his post 
on the plateau, approached a trumpeter. " Sound 
your trumpet ! " said he. 

The clarion sounded ; the horn replied. Again the 
trumpet and the horn exchanged a blast. 

" What does that mean ? " Gauvain asked Guéchamp. 
" What is it Cimourdain wants ? " 

Cimourdain advanced toward the tower, holding a 
white handkerchief in his hand. He spoke in a loud 
voice : " Men who are in the tower, do you know me ? " 

A voice — the voice of Imânus — replied from the 
summit : " Yes. " 

The following dialogue between the two voices reached 
the ears of those about : — 

" I am the Envoy of the Republic. " 

" You are the late Curé of Parigné. " 

" I am the delegate of the Committee of Public 
Safety. " 

" You are a priest. " 

" I am the representative of the law. M 

" You are a renegade. " 

" I am the commissioner of the Revolution. * 

u You are an apostate. " 

" I am Cimourdain. " 


" You are the demon. " 

"Do you know me ? " 

" We hate you. " 

" Would you be content if you had me in your power ? " 

" We are here eighteen, who would give our heads to 
have yours. " 

" Very well ; I come to deliver myself up to you. " 

From the top of the tower rang a burst of savage 
laughter, and this cry : " Come ! " 

The camp waited in the breathless silence of 

Cimourdain resumed : " On one condition. " 

" What ? " 

" Listen. " 

" Speak. » 

" You hate me ? " 

" Yes. " 

" And I love you. I am your brother. " 

The voice from the top of the tower replied : " Yes, 
Cain. " 

Cimourdain went on in a singular tone, at once loud 
and sweet : " Insult me ; but listen. I come here un- 
der a flag of truce. Yes, you are my brothers. You 
are poor mistaken creatures. I am your friend. I am 
the light, and I speak to ignorance. Light is always 
brotherhood. Besides, have we not all the same mother, 
— our country ? Well, listen to me : you will know 
hereafter, or your children will know, or your children's 
children will know, that what is done in this moment 
is brought about by the law above, and that the Revo- 
lution is the work of God. While awaiting the time 
when all consciences, even yours, shall understand this ; 
when all fanaticisms, even yours, shall vanish, — while 
waiting for this great light to spread, will no one have 
pity on your darkness ? I come to you. I offer you my 


head. I do more, — I hold out my hand to you. 1 
demand of you the favour to destroy me in order to save 
yourselves. I have unlimited authority, and that which 
I say I can do. This is a supreme instant. I make a 
last effort. Yes, he who speaks to you is a citizen and 
in this citizen — yes — there is a priest. The citizen 
defies you, but the priest implores you. Listen to me. 
Many among you have wives and children. I am de- 
fending your children and your wives, — defending them 
against yourselves. Oh, my brothers — " 

" Go on ! Preach ! " sneered Imânus. 

" My brothers, do not let the terrible horn sound, 
Throats are to be cut. Many among us who are here 
before you will not see to-morrow's sun; yes, many of 
us will perish, and you — you are all going to die. 
Show mercy to yourselves. Why shed all this blood, 
when it is useless ? Why kill so many men, when it 
would suffice to kill two ? " 

" Two ? " repeated Imânus. 

" Yes. Two. " 

" Who ? " 

" Lantenac and myself. " Cimourdain spoke more 
loudly. " Two men are too many. Lantenac for us ; I 
for you. This is what I propose to you, and you will 
all have your lives safe. Give us Lantenac, and take 
me. Lantenac will be guillotined, and you shall do 
what you choose with me. " 

" Priest, " howled Imânus, " if we had thee we would 
roast thee at a slow fire ! " 

" I consent, " said Cimourdain. He went on : " You, 
the condemned who are in this tower, you can all in an 
hour be living and free. I bring you safety. Do you 
accept ? " 

Imânus burst forth : " You are not only a villain, you 
are a madman. Ah, why do you come here to disturb 


us ? "Who begged you to come and speak to us ? We 
give up Monseigneur ? What is it you want ? " 

" His head. And I offer — " 

" Your skin. Oh, we would flay you like a dog, Curé 
Cimourdain ! Well, no ; your skin is not worth his 
head. Get away with you ! " 

" The massacre will be horrible. For the last time 
— reflect." 

Night had come on during this strange colloquy, which 
could be heard without and within the tower. The 
Marquis de Lantenac kept silence, and allowed events 
to take their course. Leaders possess such sinister 
egotism ; it is one of the rights of responsibility. 

Imanus sent his voice beyond Cimourdain ; he shouted : 
" Men, who attack us, we have submitted our proposi- 
tions to you : they are settled ; we have nothing to 
change in them. Accept them, else woe to all ! Do 
you consent ? We will give you up the three children, 
and you will allow liberty and life to us all! " 

" To all, yes, " replied Cimourdain, " except one. " 

" And that ? " 

" Lantenac. n 

" Monseigneur ! Give up Monseigneur ? Never ! " 

" We can only treat with you on that condition. " 

• Then begin. " 

Silence fell. Imânus descended after having sounded 
the signal on his horn ; the marquis took his sword in 
his hand ; the nineteen besieged grouped themselves in 
silence behind the retirade of the lower hall and sank 
upon their knees. They could hear the measured tread 
of the column as it advanced toward the tower in the 
gloom. The sound came nearer; suddenly they heard 
it close to them, at the very mouth of the breach. Then 
all, kneeling, aimed their guns and blunderbusses across 
the openings of the barricade, and one ot them — GranCi 


Francœur, who was the priest Turmeau — raised him- 
self, with a naked sabre in his right hand and a crucifix 
in his left, saying, in a solemn voice, — ■ 

" In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost!" 

All fired at the same time, and the battle began. 



THE encounter was frightful. This hand-to-hand 
contest went beyond the power of fancy in its 
awfulness. To find anything similar, it would be ne- 
cessary to go back to the great duels of iEschylus or th» 
ancient feudal butcheries ; to " those attacks with short 
arms " which lasted down to the seventeenth century, 
when men penetrated into fortified places by concealed 
breaches, tragic assaults, where, says the old sergeant 
of the province of Alentejo, " when the mines had done 
their work, the besiegers advanced bearing planks cov- 
ered with sheets of tin, and, armed with round shields 
and furnished with grenades, they forced those who 
held the intrenchments or retirades to abandon them; 
and thus become masters, they vigorously drove in the 
besieged. " 

The place of attack was terrible ; it was what in mili- 
tary language is called " a covered breach, " — that is to 
say, a crevice traversing the wall through and through, 
and not an extended fracture open to the sky. The 
powder had acted like an auger. The effect of the ex- 
plosion had been so violent that the tower was cracked 
for more than forty feet above the chamber of the mine. 
But this was only a crack ; the practicable rent which 
served as a breach, and which gave admittance into the 
lower hall, resembled a thrust from a lance which 
pierces, rather than a blow from an axe which gashes. 


It was a puncture in the flank of the tower ; a long cut, 
something like the mouth of a well ; a passage, twisting 
and mounting like an intestine along the wall fifteen 
feet in thickness; a misshapen cylinder, encumbered 
with obstacles, traps, stones broken by the explosion, 
where any one entering struck his head against the 
granite rock, his feet against the rubbish, while the 
darkness blinded him. 

The assailants saw before them this black gap, the 
mouth of a gulf, which had for upper and lower jaws 
all the stones of the jagged wall: a shark's mouth has 
not more teeth than had this frightful opening. It was 
necessary to enter this gap and to get out of it. Within 
was the wall ; without rose the retirade, — without ; 
that is to say, in the hall of the ground-floor. 

The encounters of sappers in covered galleries when 
the countermine succeeds in cutting the mine, the 
butcheries in the gun -decks of vessels boarded in a naval 
engagement, alone have this ferocity. To fight in the 
bottom of a grave, — it is the supreme degree of horror ; 
it is frightful for men to meet in the death-struggle in 
such narrow bounds. At the instant when the first 
rush of besiegers entered, the whole retirade blazed 
with lightnings ; it was like a thunder-bolt bursting 
under-ground. The thunder of the assailants replied 
to that of the ambuscade ; the detonations answered one 
another. Gauvain's voice was heard shouting, " Drive 
them back! " Then Lantenac's cry, " Hold firm against 
the enemy! " Then Imânus's yell, " Here, you men of 
the Main ! " Then the clash of against sabres, 
and echo after echo of terrible discharges that killed 
right and left. The torch fastened against the wall 
dimly lighted the horrible scene. It was impossible 
clearly to distinguish anything ; the combatants strug- 
gled amidst a lurid night; whoever entered was sud- 


denly struck deaf and blind, — deafened by the noise, 
blinded by the smoke. The combatants trod upon the 
corpses ; they lacerated the wounds of the injured men 
lying helpless amidst the rubbish, stamped recklessly 
upon limbs already broken ; the sufferers uttered awful 
groans ; the dying fastened their teeth in the feet of 
their unconscious tormentors. Then for an instant would 
come a silence more dreadful than the tumult : the foes 
collared each other; the hissing sound of their breath 
could be heard ; the gnashing of teeth, death-groans, 
curses, — then the thunder would recommence. A 
stream of blood flowed out from the tower through the 
breach and spread away across the darkness, and formed 
smoking pools upon the grass. One might have said 
that the tower had been wounded, and that the giantess 
was bleeding. 

Strange thing ! scarcely a sound of the struggle could 
be heard without. The night was very black,, and a sort 
of funereal calm reigned in plain and forest about the 
beleaguered fortress. Hell was within, the sepulchre 
without. This shock of men exterminating one another 
amidst the darkness, these musket-volleys, these clam- 
ours, these shouts of rage, — all that din expired beneath 
that mass of walls and arches; air was lacking, and 
suffocation added itself to the carnage. Scarcely a 
sound reached those outside the tower. The little chil- 
dren slept. 

The desperate strife grew madder. The retirade held 
firm. Nothing more difficult than to force a barricade 
with a re-entering angle. If the besieged had numbers 
against them, they had at least the position in theii 
favour. The storming-column lost many men. Stretched 
in a long line outside the tower, it forced its way slowly 
in through the opening of the breach like a snake twist- 
ing itself into its den. 

TOL. XVIII. — 2 


Gauvain, with the natural imprudence of a youthful 
leader, was in the hall in the thickest of the mêlée, with 
the bullets flying in every direction about his head. 
Besides the imprudence of his age, he had the assurance 
of a man who has never been wounded. As he turned 
about to give an order, the glare of a volley of musketry 
lighted up a face close beside him. " Cimourdain ! " he 
cried. " What are you doing here ? " 

It was indeed Cimourdain. He replied : " I have come 
to be near you. " 

" But you will be killed ! " 

" Very well : you — what are you doing, then ? " 

" I am necessary here ; you are not. " 

" Since you are here, I must be here too. " 

" No, my master ! " 

" Yes, my child I " 

And Cimourdain remained near Gauvain. 

The dead lay in heaps on the pavement of the hall. 
Although the retirade was not yet carried, numbers 
would evidently conquer at last. The assailants were 
sheltered, and the assailed under cover; ten besiegers 
fell to one among the besieged, but the besiegers were 
constantly renewed, the assailants increased, and the 
assailed grew less. The nineteen besieged were all be- 
hind the retirade, because the attack was made there. 
They had dead and wounded among them; not more 
than fifteen could fight now. One of the most furious, 
Chante-en-Hiver, had been horribly mutilated. He was 
a stubby, woolly-haired Breton, little and active ; he 
had an eye shot out, and his jaw broken. He could 
walk still ; he dragged himself up the spiral staircase, 
and reached the chamber of the first floor, hoping to be 
able to say a prayer there and die. He backed himself 
against the wall near the loop-hole in order to breathe 
a little fresh air. 


Beneath, in front of the barricade, the butchery be- 
came more and more horrible. In a pause between the 
answering discharges, Cimourdain raised his voice : 
" Besieged ! " cried he. " Why let any more blood flow ? 
You are beaten. Surrender ! Think ! we are four thou- 
sand five hundred men against nineteen, — that is to 
say, more than two hundred against one. Surrender ! " 

" Let us stop these babblings, " retorted the Marquis 
de Lantenac ; and twenty balls answered Cimourdain. 

The retirade did not reach to the arched roof; this 
space permitted the besieged to fire upon the barricade, 
but it also gave the besiegers an opportunity to scale it. 

" Assault the retirade ! " cried Gauvain. " Is there 
any man willing to scale the retirade ? " 

"II" said Sergeant Eadoub. 



THEN a sort of stupor seized the assailants. Eadoub 
had entered the breach at the head of the column, 
and of those men of the Parisian battalion of which he 
made the sixth, four had already fallen. After he had 
uttered that shout, " I ! " he was seen to recoil instead 
of advance. Stooping, bending forward, almost creeping 
between the legs of the combatants, he regained the 
opening of the breach and rushed out. Was it a flight ? 
A man like this to fly ! What did it mean ? 

When he was outside, Kadoub, still blinded by the 
smoke, rubbed his eyes as if to clear them from the 
horror of the cavernous night he had just left, and 
studied the wall of the tower by the starlight. He 
nodded his head, as if to say, " I was not mistaken. " 

Eadoub had noticed that the deep crack made by the 
explosion of the mine extended above the breach to the 
loop-hole of the upper story, whose iron grating had 
been shattered, and by a ball. The net-work of broken 
bars hung loosely down, so that a man could enter. A 
man could enter, but could he climb up ? By the crev- 
ice it might have been possible for a cat to mount. That 
was what Eadoub was. He belonged to the race which 
Pindar calls " the agile athletes. " One may be an old 
soldier and a young man. Eadoub, who had belonged 
fco the French guards, was not yet forty; he was a nim 
ble Hercules. 


Kadoub threw his musket on the ground, tooii off' his 
shoulder-belts, laid aside his coat and jacket, guarding 
his two pistols, which he thrust in his trousers' -belt, 
and his naked sabre, which he held between his teeth ; 
the butt-ends of the pistols protruded above his belt. 
Thus lightened of everything useless, and followed in 
the obscurity by the eyes of all such of the attacking 
column as had not yet entered the breach, he began to 
climb the stones of the cracked wall as if they had been 
the steps of a staircase. Having no shoes was an ad- 
vantage ; nothing can cling like a naked foot. He 
twisted his toes into the holes of the stones ; he hoisted 
himself with his fists, and bore his weight on his knees. 
The ascent was a hazardous one ; it was somewhat like 
climbing along the teeth of a gigantic saw. " Luckily, " 
thought he, " there is nobody in the chamber of the first 
story, else I should not be allowed to climb up like 
this. " 

Eadoub had not more than forty feet left to mount. 
He was somewhat encumbered by the projecting butt- 
ends of his pistols ; and, as he climbed, the crevice nar- 
rowed, rendering the ascent more and more difficult, so 
that the danger of falling increased as he went on. At 
last he reached the frame of the loop-hole and pushed 
aside the twisted and broken grating so that he had 
space enough to pass through. He raised himself for 
a last powerful effort, rested his knee on the cornice of 
the ledge, seized with one hand a bar of the grating 
at the left, with the other a bar at the right, lifted half 
his body in front of the embrasure of the loop-hole, 
and, sabre between his teeth, hung thus suspended by 
his two fists over the abyss. It only needed one spring 
more to land him in the chamber of the first floor. 

But a face appeared in a loop-bole. Radoub saw a fright- 
ful spectacle rise suddenly before him in the gloom, — an 


eye torn out, a jaw fractured, a bloody mask. Thia 
mask, which had only one eye left, was watching him. 
This mask had two hands ; these two hands thrust them- 
selves out of the darkness of this loop-hole and clutched 
at Eadoub ; one of them seized the two pistols in his belt, 
the other snatched the sword from between his teeth. 
Radoub was disarmed. His knee slipped upon the in- 
clined plane of the cornice ; his two fists, cramped about 
the bars of the grating, barely sufficed to support him ; 
and beneath was a sheer descent of forty feet. 

This mask and these hands belonged to Chante-en- 
Hiver. Suffocated by the smoke which rose from the 
room below, Chante-en-Hiver had succeeded in entering 
the embrasure of the loop-hole : the air from without 
had revived him ; the freshness of the night had con- 
gealed the blood, and his strength had in a measure 
come back. Suddenly he perceived the torso of Radoub 
rise in front of the embrasure. Radoub, having his 
hands twisted about the bars, had no choice but to let 
himself fall or allow himself to be disarmed ; so Chante- 
en-Hiver, with a horrible tranquillity, had taken the 
two pistols out of his belt and the sabre from between 
his teeth. 

Then commenced an unheard-of duel, — a duel be- 
tween the disarmed and the wounded. Evidently the 
dying man had the victory in his own hands. A single 
shot would suffice to hurl Radoub into the yawning gulf 
beneath his feet. Luckily for Radoub, Chante-en-Hiver 
held both pistols in the same hand, so that he could not 
fire either, and was forced to make use of the sabre. He 
struck Radoub a blow on the shoulder with the point. 
The sabre-stroke wounded Radoub, but saved his life. 
The soldier was unarmed, but in full possession of his 
strength. Regardless of his wound, which indeed was 
only a flesh-cut, he swung hk body vigorously forward, 


loosed his hold of the bars, and bounded through the 
loop-hole. There he found himself face to face with 
Chante-en-Hiver, who had thrown the sabre behind him 
and was clutching a pistol in either hand. Chante-en- 
Hiver had Eadoub close to the muzzle as he took aim 
upon his knees, but his enfeebled arm trembled, and he 
did not fire at once. 

Eadoub took advantage of this respite to burst out 
laughing. " I say, ugly face ! " cried he, " do you sup- 
pose you frighten me with your bloody bullock's jaws? 
Thunder and Mars, how they have shattered your 
features ! " 

Chante-en-Hiver took aim. 

Eadoub continued : " It is not polite to mention it, but 
the grape-shot has dotted your mug very neatly. Bel- 
lona has disturbed your physiognomy, my lad. Come, 
come ; spit out your little pistol-shot, my good fellow ! * 

Chante-en-Hiver fired; the ball passed so close to 
Eadoub 's head that it carried away part of his ear. His 
foe raised the second pistol in his other hand. 

Eadoub did not give him time to take aim. " It is 
enough to lose one ear ! " cried he. " You have wounded 
me twice. It is my turn now. " 

He flung himself on Chante-en-Hiver, knocked aside 
his arm with such force that the pistol went off and the 
ball whizzed against the ceiling. He seized his enemy's 
broken jaw in both hands and twisted it about. Chante- 
en-Hiver uttered a howl of pain and fainted. Eadoub 
stepped across his body and left him lying in the em- 
brasure of the loop-hole. 

"Now that I have announced my ultimatum, don't 
you stir again, " said he. " Lie there, you ugly crawling 
snake ! You may fancy that I am not going to amuse 
myself by massacring you. Crawl about on the ground 
at your ease, — under foot is the place for you. Die,—- 


you can't get rid of that! In a little while you will 
learn what nonsense your priest has talked to you. Away 
with you into the great mystery, peasant ! " And he 
hurried forward into the room. " One cannot see an 
inch before one's nose," grumbled he. 

Chante-en-Hiver began to writhe convulsively upon 
the floor, and utter fresh moans of agony. 

Eadoub turned back. " Hold your tongue ! Do me 
the favour to be silent, citizen, without knowing it. I 
cannot trouble myself further with you ; I should scorn 
to make an end of you. Just let me have quiet. " 

Then he thrust his hands into his hair as he stood 
watching Chante-en-Hiver. " But here, what am I to do 
now ? It is all very fine, but I am disarmed. I had two 
shots to fire, and you have robbed me of them, animal ! 
and with all that, a smoke that would blind a dog ! " 

Then his hand touched his wounded ear. " Aïe ! " he 

Then he went on : * You have gained a great deal by 
confiscating one of my ears ! However, I would rather 
have one less of them than anything else : an ear is only 
an ornament. You have scratched my shoulder, too; 
but that is nothing. Expire, villager ! I forgive you. * 

He listened. The din from the lower room was fear- 
ful. The combat had grown more furious than ever. 
" Things are going well down there, " he muttered. 
" How they howl ' Live the king ! ' One must admit 
that they die bravely. " 

His foot struck against the sabre. He picked it up, 
and said to Chante-en-Hiver, who no longer stirred, and 
who might indeed be dead : " See here, man of the 
woods, I will take my sabre ; you have left me that, any 
way. But I needed my pistols. The devil fly away 
with you, savage! Oh, there, what am I to do? I am 
no good whatever here. " 


He advanced into the hall trying to guide his steps in 
the gloom. Suddenly, in the shadow behind the cen- 
tral pillar, he perceived a long table upon which some- 
thing gleamed faintly. He felt the objects. They were 
blunderbusses, carbines, pistols, a whole row of fire- 
arms laid out in order to his hand ; it was the reserve of 
weapons the besieged had provided in this chamber, 
which would be their second place of stand, a whole 

" A sideboard ! " cried Radoub ; and he clutched them 
right and left, dizzy with joy. Thus armed, he became 

He could see back of the table the door of the stair- 
case, which communicated with the rooms above and 
below, standing wide open. Radoub seized two pistols, 
and fired them at random through the doorway , then he 
snatched a blunderbuss, and fired that, — then a blun- 
derbuss loaded with buckshot, and discharged it. The 
blunderbuss, vomiting forth its fifteen balls, sounded 
like a volley of grape-shot. He got his breath back, 
and shouted down the staircase, in a voice of thunder, 
" Long live Paris ! " Then seizing a second blunderbuss, 
still bigger than the first, he aimed it toward the stair- 
case and waited. 

The confusion in the lower hall was indescribable. 
This unexpected attack from behind paralyzed the be- 
sieged with astonishment. Two balls from Radoub 's 
triple fire had taken effect: one had killed the elder of 
the brothers Pique-en-Bois ; the other had killed De 
Quélen, nicknamed Houzard. 

" They are on the floor above ! " cried the marquis. 

At this cry the men abandoned the retirade, — a flock 
of birds could not have fled more quickly , they plunged 
madly toward the staircase. 

The marquis encouraged the flight. " Quick, quick ! " 


he exclaimed. " There is most courage now in escape. 
Let us all get up to the second floor. We will begin 
again there. " He left the retirade the last. This brave 
act saved his life. 

Badoub, ambushed at the top of the stairs, watched 
the retreat, finger on trigger. The first who appeared at 
the turn of the spiral steps received the discharge of his 
gun full in their faces, and fell. Had the marquis been 
among them, he would have been killed. Before 
Badoub had time to seize another weapon, the others 
passed him, — the marquis behind all the rest, and mov- 
ing more slowly. 

Believing the first-floor chambers filled with the be- 
siegers, the men did not pause there, but rushed on and 
gained the room above, which was the hall of the mir- 
rors. There was the iron door ; there was the sulphur- 
match ; it was there they must capitulate or die. 

Gauvain had been as much astounded as the besieged 
by the detonations from the staircase, and was unable to 
understand how aid could have reached him in that 
quarter ; but he took advantage without waiting to com- 
prehend. He leaped over the retirade, followed by his 
men, and pursued the fugitives up to the first floor. 
There he found Badoub. 

The sergeant saluted, and said : " One minute, my 
commandant. I did that. I remembered Dol ; I fol- 
lowed your plan : I took the enemy between two fires. " 

" A good scholar, " answered Gauvain, with a smile. 

After one has been a certain length of time in the 
darkness, the eyes become accustomed to the obscurity 
like those of a night-bird. Gauvain perceived that 
Badoub was covered with blood. " But you are wounded, 
comrade ! " he exclaimed. 

" Never mind that, my commandant ! What differ- 
ence does it make, — an ear more or less ? I got a sabre- 


thrust, too, but it is nothing. One always cuts one's 
self a little in breaking a window; it is only losing a 
little blood. " 

The besiegers made a halt in the first-floor chamber, 
which had been conquered by Kadoub. A lantern was 
brought. Cimourdain rejoined Gauvain. They held a 
council. It was time to reflect, indeed. The besiegers 
were not in the secrets of their foes : they were unaware 
of the lack of munitions ; they did not know that the 
defenders of the tower were short of powder, that the 
second floor must be the last post where a stand could 
be made ; the assailants could not tell but the staircase 
might be mined. One thing was certain, — the enemy 
could not escape. Those who had not been killed were 
as safe as if under lock and key. Lantenac was in the 

Certain of this, the besiegers could afford to give 
themselves time to choose the best means of bringing 
about the end. Numbers among them had been killed 
already. The thing now was to spare the men as much 
as possible in this last assault. The risk of this final 
attack would be great. The first fire would without doubt 
be a hot one. The combat was interrupted. The besieg- 
ers, masters of the ground and first floors, waited the 
orders of the commander-in-chief to renew the conflict. 
Gauvain and Cimourdain were holding counsel. 

Radoub assisted in silence at their deliberation. At 
length he timidly hazarded another military salute. 
* Commandant ! " 

" What is it, Eadoub ? " 

" Have I a right to a little recompense ? " 

" Yes, indeed. Ask what you like. " 

" I ask permission to mount the first. M 

It was impossible to refuse him ; indeed, he would 
have done it without permission. 



WHILE this consultation i;ook place on the first 
floor, the besieged were barricading the second. 
Success is a fury ; defeat is a madness. The encounter 
between the foes would be frenzied. To be close on 
victory intoxicates. The men below were inspired by 
hope, which would be the most powerful of human in- 
centives if despair did not exist. Despair was above, 
— a calm, cold sinister despair. 

When the besieged reached the hall of refuge, beyond 
which they had no resource, no hope, their first care had 
been to bar the entrance. To lock the door was useless ; 
it was necessary to block the staircase. In a position 
like theirs, an obstacle across which they could see, and 
over which they could fight, was worth more than a 
closed door. The torch which Imanus had planted in 
the wall near the sulphur-match lighted the room. 
There was in the chamber one of those great, heavy oak 
chests which were used to hold clothes and linen before 
the invention of chests of drawers. They dragged this 
chest out, and stood it on end in the door-way of the 
staircase. It fitted solidly and closed the entrance, 
leaving open at the top a narrow space by which a man 
could pass ; but it was scarcely probable that the assail- 
ants would run the risk of being killed one after another 
by any attempt to pass the barrier in single file. 


This obstruction of the entrance afforded the besieged 
a respite. They numbered their company. Out of the 
nineteen only seven remained, of whom Imânus made 
one. With the exception of Imânus and the marquis, 
they were all wounded. The five wounded men (active 
still, for in the heat of combat any wound less than 
mortal leaves a man able to move about) were Chatenay 
(called Kobi), Guinoiseau, Hoisnard (Branche d'Or), Brin 
d'Amour, and Grand Francœur. All the others were 
dead. They had no munitions left ; the cartridge-boxes 
were almost empty : they counted the cartridges. How 
many shots were there left for the seven to fire ? Four! 
They had reached the pass where nothing remained but 
to fall. They had retreated to the precipice ; it yawned 
black and terrible; they stood upon the very edge. 
Still, the attack was about to recommence, — slowly, and 
all the more surely on that account. They could hear 
the butt-end of the muskets sound along the staircase 
step by step, as the besiegers advanced. No means of 
escape. By the library ? On the plateau bristled six 
cannon with every match lighted. By the upper cham- 
bers ? To what end ? They gaze on the platform : the 
only resource when that was reached would be to fling 
themselves from the top of the tower. 

The seven survivors of this Homeric band found them- 
selves inexorably enclosed and held fast by that thick 
wall which at once protected and betrayed them. They 
were not yet taken, but they were already prisoners. 

The marquis spoke : " My friends, all is finished. " 
Then after a silence, he added : " Grand Francœur, be- 
come açain the Abbé Turmeau. " 

All knelt, rosary in hand. The measured stroke of 
the muskets sounded nearer. Grand Francœur covered 
with blood from a wound which had grazed Ms skull 
and torn away his leather cap, raised the crucifix in his 


right hand. The marquis, a sceptic at bottom, bent 
his knee to the ground. 

" Let each one confess his faults aloud, " said Grand 
Francœur. " Monseigneur, speak. " 

The marquis answered, " I have killed. " 

" I have killed, " said Hoisnard. 

" I have killed, " said Guinoiseau. 

" I have killed," said Brin d'Amour. 

" I have killed, " said Chatenay. 

" I have killed, " said Imânus. 

And Grand Francœur replied : " In the name of the 
most Holy Trinity I absolve you. May your souls de- 
part in peace ! " 

" Amen, " replied all the voices. 

The marquis raised himself. " Now let us die, * he 

" And kill, " added Imânus. 

The blows from the butt-end of the besiegers' muskets 
began to shake the chest which barred the door. 

" Think of God, " said the priest ; " earth no longer 
exists for you. " 

" It is true, " replied the marquis ; " we are in the 
tomb. " 

All bowed their heads and smote their breasts. The 
marquis and the priest were alone standing. The 
priest prayed, keeping his eyes cast down ; the peasants 
prayed; the marquis reflected. The coffer echoed dis- 
mally, as if under the stroke of hammers. 

At this instant a rapid, strong voice sounded sud- 
denly behind them, exclaiming : * Did I not tell you 
so, monseigneur ? " 

All turned their heads in stupefied wonder. A gap had 
just opened in the wall. A stone, perfectly fitted into 
the others, but not cemented, and having a pivot above 
and a pivot below, had just revolved like a turnstile, 


leaving the wall open. The stone having revolved on 
its axis, the opening was double, and offered two means 
of exit, — one to the right and one to the left; narrow, 
but leaving space enough to allow a man to pass. Be- 
yond this door, so unexpectedly opened, could be seen 
the first steps of a spiral staircase. A face appeared in 
the opening. The marquis recognized Halmalo. 



* TS it you, Halmalo ? " 

X- " It is I, monseigneur. You see there are stones 
that turn ; they really exist ; you can get out of here. 
I am just in time ; but come quickly. In ten minutes 
vou will be in the heart of the forest. " 

" God is great, " said the priest. 

" Save yourself, monseigneur ! " cried the men in 

" All of you go first, " said the marquis. 

" You must go first, monseigneur, " returned the Abbé 
Turmeau. " I go the last. " 

And the marquis added, in a severe tone : " No strug- 
gle of generosity ; we have no time to be magnanimous. 
You are wounded; I order you to live and to fly. 
Quick! Take advantage of this outlet. Thanks, Halmalo." 

" Marquis, must we separate ? " asked the Abbé 

" Below, without doubt. We can only escape one by 

" Does Monseigneur assign us a rendezvous ? " 

" Yes ; a glade in the foi est, — La Pierre Gauvaine. 
Do you know the place ? " 

" We all know it. " 

" I shall be there to-morrow at noon. Let all those 
who can walk meet me at that time. " 

" Every man will be there. " 

* And we will begin the war anew, " said the marquis, 


As Halmalo pushed against the turning-stone, he 
found that it did not stir. The aperture could not be 
closed again. 

" Monseigneur, " he said, " we must hasten. The stone 
will not move. I was able to open the passage, but 1 
cannot shut it. " 

The stone, in fact, had become deadened, as it were, 
on its hinges from long disuse. It was impossible to 
make it revolve back into its place. 

" Monseigneur, " resumed Halmalo, " I had hoped to 
close the passage, so that the Blues, when they got in 
and found no one, would think you must have flown off 
in the smoke. But the stone will not budge. The 
enemy will see the outlet open, and can follow. At 
least, do not let us lose a second. Quick ! everybody 
make for the staircase ! " 

Imânus laid his hand on Halmalo's shoulder. " Com- 
rade, how much time will it take to get from here to the 
forest and to safety ? " 

" Is there any one seriously wounded ? " asked 

They answered, " Nobody. " 

" In that case a quarter of an hour will be enough. " 

" Go, " said Imânus ; " if the enemy can be kept out 
of here for a quarter of an hour — " 

" They may follow ; they cannot overtake us. " 

" But, " said the marquis, " they will be here in five 
minutes ; that old chest cannot hold out against them 
any longer. A few blows from their muskets will end 
the business. A quarter of an hour! Who can keep 
them back for a quarter of an hour ? " 

" I, " said Imânus. 

"You, Gouge-le-Bruant?" 

" I, monseigneur. Listen. Five out of six of you 
are wounded. I have not a scratch. " 

TOI* 3CVWI. — S 


" Nor I, * said the marquis. 

" You are the chief, monseigneur. I am a soldier. 
Chief and soldier are two. " 

" I know we have each a different duty. " 

* No, monseigneur, we have, you and I, the same 
duty ; it is to save you. " 

Imânus turned toward his companions. " Comrades, 
the thing necessary to be done is to hold the enemy in 
check and retard the pursuit as long as possible. Listen. 
I am in possession of my full strength ; I have not lost 
a drop of blood; not being wounded, I can hold out 
longer than any of the others. Fly, all of you ! Leave 
me your weapons ; I will make good use of them. I 
take it on myself to stop the enemy for a good half hour. 
How many loaded pistols are there ? " 

" Four. " 

" Lay them on the floor. " His command was obeyed. 
" It is well. I stay here. They will find somebody to 
talk with. Now, quick ! get away. " 

Life and death hung in the balance ; there was no 
time for thanks, — scarcely time for those nearest to 
grasp his hand. 

" We shall meet soon, " the marquis said to him. 

" No, monseigneur ; I hope not, — not soon ; for I am 
going to die. " 

They got through the opening one after another and 
passed down the stairs, the wounded going first. While 
the men were escaping, the marquis took a pencil out of 
a note-book which he carried in his pocket and wrote a 
few words on the stone, which, remaining motionless, 
left the passage gaping open. 

" Come, monseigneur, they are all gone but you, " 
said Halmalo. And the sailor began to descend the 
stairs. The marquis followed. 

Imânus remained alone. 



THE four pistols had been laid on the flags, for the 
chamber had no flooring. Imânus grasped a 
pistol in either hand. He moved obliquely toward the 
entrance to the staircase which the chest obstructed and 

The assailants evidently feared some surprise, — one 
of those final explosions which involve conqueror and 
conquered in the same catastrophe. This last attack 
was as slow and prudent as the first had been impetuous. 
They had not been able to push the chest backward 
into the chamber, — perhaps would not have done it if 
they could. They had broken the bottom with blows 
from their muskets, and pierced the top with bayonet 
holes ; by these holes they were trying to see into the 
hall before entering. The light from the lanterns with 
which they had illuminated the staircase shone through 
these chinks. 

Imânus perceived an eye regarding him through one 
of the holes. He aimed his pistol quickly at the place, 
and pulled the trigger. To his joy, a horrible cry fol- 
lowed the report. The ball had entered the eye and 
passed through the brain of the soldier, who fell back- 
ward down the stairs. 

The assailants had broken two large holes in the 
cover; Imânus thrust his pistol through one of these 
and fired at random into the mass of besiegers. The 


ball must have rebounded, for he heard several cries, as 
if three or four were killed or wounded ; then there was 
a great trampling and tumult as the men fell back. 
Imânus threw down the two pistols which he had just 
fired, and, taking the two which still remained, peered 
out through the holes in the chest. He was able to see 
what execution his shots had done. 

The assailants had descended the stairs. The twist- 
ing of the spiral staircase only allowed him to look 
down three or four steps ; the men he had shot lay 
writhing there in the death agony. Imânus waited. " It 
is so much time gained, " thought he. Then he saw a man 
flat on his stomach creeping up the stairs ; at the same 
instant the head of another soldier appeared lower down 
from behind the pillar about which the spiral wound. 
Imânus aimed at this head and fired. A cry followed, 
the soldier fell; and Imânus, while watching, threw 
away the empty pistol, and changed the loaded one from 
his left hand to his right. As he did so he felt a horri • 
ble pain, and, in his turn, uttered a yell of agony. A 
sabre had traversed his bowels. A fist (the fist of the 
man who had crept up the stairs) had just been thrust 
through the second hole in the bottom of the chest, and 
this fist had plunged a sabre into Imânus 's body. The 
wound was frightful ; the abdomen was pierced through 
and through. 

Imânus did not fall. He set his teeth together and 
muttered, " Good ! " Then he dragged himself, totter- 
ing along, and retreated to the iron door, at the side of 
which the torch was still burning. He laid his pistol 
on the stones and seized the torch, and while with his 
left hand he held together the terrible wound through 
which his intestines protruded, with the right he low- 
ered the torch till it touched the sulphur-match. It 
caught fire instantaneously ; the wick blazed. 


Imânus dropped the torch ; it lay on the ground still 
burning. He seized his pistol anew, dropped forward 
upon the flags, and with what breath he had left blew 
the wick. The flame ran along it, passed beneath the 
iron door, and reached the bridge-castle. Then seeing 
that his execrable exploit had succeeded, — prouder, per- 
haps, of this crime than of the courage he had before 
shown, — this man, who had just proved himself a hero, 
only to sink into an assassin, smiled as he stretched 
himself out to die, and muttered : " They will remember 
me. I take vengeance on their little ones for the fate of 
our little one. — the king shut up in the Temple ? " 



AT this moment there was a great noise ; the chest 
was hurled violently back into the hall, and gave 
passage to a man who rushed forward, sabre in hand, 
crying, — 

" It is I — Eadoub ! What are you going to do ? It 
bores me to wait. I have risked it. Anyway I have 
just disembowelled one. Now I attack the whole of you. 
Whether the rest follow me or don't follow me, here I 
am. How many are there of you ? " 

It was indeed Eadoub, and he was alone ! 

After the massacre Imanus had caused upon the stairs, 
Gauvain, fearing some secret mine, had drawn back his 
men and consulted with Cimourdain. Eadoub, stand- 
ing sabre in hand upon the threshold, sent his voice 
anew into the obscurity of the chamber across which 
the nearly extinguished torch cast a faint gleam, and 
repeated his question, " I am one. How many are 

There was no answer. He stepped forward. One of 
those sudden jets of light which an expiring fire some- 
times sends out, and which seem like its dying throes, 
burst from the torch and illuminated the entire cham- 
ber. Eadoub caught sight of himself in one of the mir- 
rors hanging against the wall, — approached it, and 
examined his bleeding face and wounded ear. " Horri- 
ble mutilation !" said he. 


Then he turned about, and, to his utter stupefaction, 
perceived that the hall was empty. " Nobody here ! " 
he exclaimed. " Not a creature ! " 

Then he saw the revolving stone, and the staircase be- 
yond the opening. " Ah ! I understand ! The key to 
the fields. Come up, all of you ! " he shouted. " Com- 
rades, come up ! They have run away ! They have filed 
off, dissolved, evaporated, cut their lucky ! This old 
jug of a tower has a crack in it. There is the hole they 
got out by, the beggars ! How is anybody to get the 
better of Pitt and Coburg while they are able to play 
such comedies as this ? The very devil himself came to 
their rescue. There is nobody here ! " 

The report of a pistol cut his words short : a ball 
grazed his elbow and flattened itself against the wall. 

" Aha ! " said he. " So there is somebody left. Who 
was good enough to show me that little politeness ? " 

" I, " answered a voice. 

Eadoub looked about, and caught sight of Imânus in 
the gloom. " Ah ! " cried he. " I have got one at all 
events. The others have escaped, but you will not, I 
promise you. " 

" Do you believe it ? " retorted Imânus. 

Eadoub made a step forward and paused. " Hey, you, 
lying on the ground there ! Who are you ? " 

" I am a man who laughs at you who are standing up. * 

rt What is it you are holding in your right hand ? " 

• A pistol. " 

u And in your left hand ? " 

" My entrails. " 

" You are my prisoner. " 

■ I defy you ! " 

Imânus bowed his head over the burning wick, spent 
his last breath in stirring the flame, and expired. 

A few seconds after, Gauvain and Cimourdain, fol- 


lowed by the whole troop of soldiers, were in the hall 
They all saw the opening. They searched the corners 
of the room and explored the staircase ; it had a passage 
at the bottom which led to the ravine. The besieged 
had escaped. They raised Xmânus, — he was dead. 
Gauvain, lantern in hand, examined the stone which 
had afforded an outlet to the fugitives : he had heard of 
the turning-stone, but he too had always disbelieved 
the legend. As he looked he saw some lines written in 
pencil on the massive block; he held the lantern closei, 
and read these words : — 

" Au revoir, Viscount 
" Lantenac. " 

Guéchamp was standing by his commandant. Pur- 
suit was utterly useless ; the fugitives had the whole 
country to aid them, — thickets, ravines, copses, the in- 
habitants. Doubtless they were already far away. There 
would be no possibility of discovering them ; they had 
the entire forest of Fougères, with its countless hiding- 
places, for a refuge. What was to be done ? The whole 
struggle must begin anew. Gauvain and Guéchamp ex- 
changed conjectures and expressions of disappointment. 

Gimourdain listened gravely, but did not utter a word. 

a And the ladder, Guéchamp ? " said Gauvain. 

" Commandant, it has not come. " 

" But we saw a wagon escorted by gendarmes. " 

Guéchamp only replied : " It did not bring the 
ladder. " 

" What did it bring, then ? " 

" The guillotine, " said Gimourdain. 



THE Marquis de Lantenac was not so far away as 
they believed. But he was none the less in 
safety, and completely out of their reach. He had fol- 
lowed Halmalo. 

The staircase by which they descended in the wake of 
the other fugitives ended in a narrow vaulted passage 
close to the ravine and the arches of the bridge. This pas- 
sage opened upon a deep natural fissure, which led into 
the ravine on one side and into the forest on the other. 
The windings of the path were completely hidden among 
the thickets ; it would have been impossible to discover 
a man concealed there. A fugitive, once arrived at this 
point, had only to twist away like a snake. The open- 
ing from the staircase into the secret passage was so 
completely obstructed by brambles that the builders of 
the passage had not thought it necessary to close the 
way in any other manner. 

The marquis had only to go forward now. He was 
not placed in any difficulty by lack of a disguise. He 
had not thrown aside his peasant's dress since coming 
to Brittany, thinking it more in character. 

When Halmalo and the marquis passed out of the pas- 
sage into the cleft, the five other men — Guinoiseau, 
Hoisnard (Branche d'Or), Brin d'Amour, Chatenay, and 
the Abbé Turmeau — were no longer there. 


" They did not take much time to get away, ,: said 

" Follow their example. " returned the marquis. 

" Must I leave, monseigneur ? " 

" Without doubt. I have already told you so. Each 
must escape alone to be safe. One man passes where 
two cannot. We should attract attention if we were 
together. You would lose my life and I yours. " 

" Does Monseigneur know the district ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Monseigneur still gives the rendezvous for the Pierre 
Gauvain ? " 

" To-morrow, — at noon. " 

" I shall be there. We shall all be there. " Then 
Halmalo burst out : "Ah, monseigneur ! When I think 
that we were together in the open sea, that we were 
alone, that I wanted to kill you, that you were my mas- 
ter, that you could have told me so, and that you did 
not speak ! What a man you are ! " 

The marquis replied : " England ! There is no other 
resource. In fifteen days the English must be in 
France. " 

* I have much to tell Monseigneur. I obeyed his 
orders. " 

" We will talk of all that to-morrow. " 

" Farewell till to-morrow, monseigneur. " 

" By-the-way, are you hungry ? " 

" Perhaps I am, monseigneur. I was in such a hurry 
to get here that I am not sure whether I have eaten 
to-day. " 

The marquis took a cake of chocolate from his pocket, 
broke it in half, gave one piece to Halmalo, and began 
to eat the other himself. 

" Monseigneur, " said Halmalo, " at your right is the 
ravine ; at your left, the forest. " 


" Very good. Leave me. Go your own way. " 

Halmalo obeyed. He hurried off through the dark- 
ness. For a few instants the marquis could hear the 
crackling of the underbrush, then all was still. By that 
time it would have been impossible to track Halmalo. 
This forest of the Bocage was the fugitive's auxiliary. 
He did not flee, — he vanished. It was this facility for 
disappearance which made our armies hesitate before 
this ever-retreating Vendée, so formidable as it fled. 

The marquis remained motionless. He was a man 
who forced himself to feel nothing ; but he could not 
restrain his emotion on breathing this free air, after 
having been so long stifled in blood and carnage. To 
feel himself completely at liberty after having seemed 
so utterly lost ; after having seen the grave so close, to 
be swept so suddenly beyond its reach ; to come out of 
death back into life, — it was a shock even to a man like 
Lantenac. Familiar as he was with danger, in spite of 
all the vicissitudes he had passed through he could not 
at first steady his soul under this. He acknowledged to 
himself that he was content. But he quickly subdued 
this emotion, which was more like joy than any feeling 
he had known for years. He drew out his watch and 
struck the hour. What time was it? 

To his great astonishment, the marquis found that it 
was only ten o'clock. When one has just passed through 
some terrible convulsion of existence in which every 
hope and life itself were at stake, one is always as- 
tounded to find that those awful minutes were no longer 
than ordinary ones. The warning cannon had been fired 
a little before sunset, and La Tourgue attacked by the 
storming-party half an hour later, between seven and 
eight o'clock, — just as night was falling. The colossal 
combat, begun at eight o'clock, had ended at ten. This 
whole épopée had only taken a hundred and twenty 


minutes to enact. Sometimes catastrophes sweep on with 
the rapidity of lightning, — the climax is overwhelm- 
ing from its suddenness. On reflection, the astonishing 
thing was that the struggle could have lasted so long. 
A resistance for two hours of so small a number against 
so large a force was extraordinary ; and certainly it had 
not been short or quickly finished, this battle of nine- 
teen against four thousand. 

But it was time he should be gone. Halmalo must 
be far away, and the marquis judged that it would not 
be necessary to wait there longer. He put his watch 
back into his waistcoat, but not into the same pocket ; 
for he discovered that the key of the iron door given him 
by Imânus was there, and the crystal might be broken 
against the key. Then he moved toward the forest in 
his turn. As he turned to the left, it seemed to him that 
a faint gleam of light penetrated the darkness where he 
stood. He walked back, and across the underbrush, 
clearly outlined against a red background and become 
visible in their tiniest outlines, he perceived a great 
glare in the ravine ; only a few paces separated him from 
it. He hurried forward, — then stopped, remembering 
what folly it was to expose himself in that light. 
Whatever might have happened, after all it did not 
concern him. Again he set out in the direction Hal- 
malo had indicated, and walked a little way toward the 

Suddenly, deep as he was hidden among the brambles, 
he heard a terrible cry echo over his head. This cry 
seemed to proceed from the very edge of the plateau 
which stretched above the ravine. The marquis raised 
his eyes and stood still. 





AT the moment Michelle Fléchard caught sight of 
the tower, she was more than a league away. She, 
who could scarcely take a step, did not hesitate before 
these miles which must be traversed. The woman was 
weak, but the mother found strength. She walked on. 

The sun set ; the twilight came, then the night. Ah 
ways pressing on, Michelle heard a bell afar off, hidden 
by the darkness, strike eight o'clock, then nine. The 
peal probably came from the belfry of Parigné. From 
time to time she paused to listen to strange sounds like 
the deadened echo of blows, which might perhaps be 
the wind in the distance. She walked straight on, 
breaking the furze and the sharp heath-stems beneath 
her bleeding feet. She was guided by a faint light 
which shone from the distant tower, defining its outlines 
against the night, and giving a mysterious glow to the 
tower amidst the surrounding gloom. This light be- 
came more distinct when the noise sounded louder, then 
faded suddenly. 

The vast plateau across which Michelle Fléchard jour- 
neyed was covered with grass and heath ; not a house, 



not a tree appeared. It rose gradually, and, as far as 
the eye could reach, stretched in a straight hard line 
against the sombre horizon where a few stars gleamed. 
She had always the tower before her eyes ; the sight 
kept her strength from failing. She saw the massive 
pile grow slowly as she walked on. 

We have just said the smothered reports and the pale 
gleams of light starting from the tower were intermittent ; 
they stopped, then began anew, offering an enigma full 
of agony to the wretched mother. Suddenly they ceased ; 
noise and gleams of light both died. There was a moment 
of complete silence, — an ominous tranquillity. 

It was just at this moment that Michelle Fléchard 
reached the edge of the plateau. She saw at her feet a 
ravine, whose bottom was lost in the wan indistinctness 
of the night ; also at a little distance, on the top of the 
plateau, an entanglement of wheels, metal, and harness, 
which was a battery ; and before her, confusedly lighted 
by the matches of the cannon, an enormous edifice that 
seemed built of shadows blacker than the shadows which 
surrounded it. This mass of buildings was composed of 
a bridge whose arches were embedded in the ravine, and 
of a sort of castle which rose upon the bridge ; both 
bridge and castle were supported against a lofty circular 
shadow, — the tower toward which this mother had 
journeyed from so far. She could see lights come and 
go in the loop-holes of the tower, and from the noise 
which surged up she divined that it was filled with a 
crowd of men ; indeed, now and then their gigantic 
shadows were flung out on the night. Near the battery 
was a camp, whose outposts she might have perceived 
through the gloom and the underbrush, but she had as 
yet noticed nothing. She went close to the edge of the 
plateau, so near the bridge that it seemed to her she 
could almost touch it with her hand. The depth of the 


ravine alone kept her from reaching it. She could make 
out in the gloom the three stories of the bridge-castle. 

How long she stood there Michelle Fléchard could not 
have told, for her mind, absorbed in her mute contem- 
plation of this gaping ravine and this shadowy edifice, 
took no note of time. What was this building ? What 
was going on within ? Was it La Tourgue ? A strange 
dizziness seized her ; in her confusion she could not tell 
if this were the goal she had been seeking on the start- 
ing-point of a terrible journey. She asked herself why 
she was there. She looked ; she listened. 

Suddenly a great blackness shut out every object. A 
cloud of smoke swept up between Michelle and the pile 
she was watching ; a sharp report forced her to close her 
eyes. Scarcely had she done so, when a great light red- 
dened the lids. She opened them again. It was no 
longer the night she had before her ; it was the day, — ■ 
but a fearful day ' the day born of fire ! She was watch- 
ing the beginning of a conflagration. From black the 
smoke had become scarlet, filled with a mighty flame, 
which appeared and disappeared, writhing and twisting 
in serpentine coils. The flame burst out like a tongue 
from something which resembled blazing jaws ; it was 
the embrasure of a window filled with fire. This win- 
dow, covered by iron bars, already reddening in the heat, 
was a casement in the lower story of the bridge-castle. 
Nothing of the edifice was visible except this window. 
The smoke covered even the plateau, leaving only the 
mouth of the ravine black against the vermilion flames. 

Michelle Fléchard stared in dumb wonder. It was 
like a dream ; she could no longer tell where reality 
ended, and the confused fancies of her poor troubled 
brain began. Ought she to fly ? Should she remain 1 
There was nothing real enough for any definite decision 
to steady her mind. A wind swept up and burst thô 


curtain of smoke ; in the opening the frowning bastile 
rose suddenly in view. — donjon, bridge, châtelet, — 
dazzling in the terrible gilding of conflagration which 
framed it from top to bottom. 

The appalling illumination showed Michelle Fléchard 
every detail of the ancient keep. The lowest story of 
the castle built on the bridge was burning. Above rose 
the other two stories, still untouched, but as it were 
supported on a corbel of flames. From the edge of the 
plateau where Michelle Fléchard stood, she could catch 
broken glimpses of the interior between the clouds of 
smoke and fire. The windows were all open. Through 
the great casements of the second story she could make 
out the cupboards stretched along the walls, which 
looked to her full of books, and by one of the windows 
could see a little group lying on the floor, in the 
shadow, indistinct and massed together like birds in a 
nest, which at times she fancied she saw move. She 
looked fixedly in this direction. What was that little 
group lying there in the shadow ? Sometimes it flashed 
across her mind that those were living forms ; but she 
had fever ; she had eaten nothing since morning ; she had 
walked without intermission ; she was utterly exhausted. 
She felt herself giving way to a sort of hallucination, 
which she had still reason enough to struggle against. 
Still, her eyes fixed themselves ever more steadily upon 
that one point ; she could not look away from that little 
heap upon the floor, — a mass of inanimate objects, 
doubtless, that had been left in that room below which 
the flames roared and billowed. 

Suddenly the fire, as if animated by a will and pur- 
pose, flung downward a jet of flame toward the great 
dead ivy which covered the facade whereat Michelle 
Fléchard was gazing. It seemed as if the fire had just 
discovered this outwork of dried branches; a spark 


darted greedily upon it, and a line of flame spread up. 
ward from twig to twig with frightful rapidity. In the 
twinkling of an eye it reached the second story. As 
they rose, the flames illuminated the chamber of the 
first floor, and the awful glare threw out in bold relief 
the three little creatures lying asleep upon the floor. A 
lovely, statuesque group of legs and arms interlaced, 
closed eyes, and angelic, smiling faces. 

The mother recognized her children! She uttered a 
terrible cry. That cry of indescribable agony is only 
given to mothers. . No sound is at once so savage and so 
touching. When a woman utters it, you seem to hear 
the yell of a sea-wolf; when the sea-wolf cries thus, 
you seem to hear the voice of a woman. This cry of 
Michelle Fléchard was a howl. Hecuba howled, says 

It was this cry which reached the Marquis de Lan- 
tenac. When he heard it he stood still. The marquis 
was between the outlet of the passage through which he 
had been guided by Halmalo and the ravine. Across 
the brambles which enclosed him he saw the bridge in 
flames, and La Tourgue red with the reflection. Look- 
ing upward through the opening which the branches left 
above his head, he perceived close to the edge of the 
plateau on the opposite side of the gulf, in front of the 
burning castle, in the full light of the conflagration, 
the haggard, anguish-stricken face of a woman bending 
over the depth. It was this woman who had uttered 
that cry. 

The face was no longer that of Michelle Fléchard ; it 
was a Gorgon's. She was appalling in her agony; the 
peasant woman was transformed into one of the Eumen- 
ides ; this unknown villager, vulgar, ignorant, unreason- 
ing, had risen suddenly to the epic grandeur of despair. 
Great sufferings swell the soul to gigantic proportions, 

VOL. XVIII. — 4 


This was no longer a simple mother, — all maternity's 
voice cried out through hers : whatever sums up and be- 
comes a type of humanity grows superhuman. There 
she towered on the edge of that ravine, in front of that 
conflagration, in presence of that crime, like a power 
from beyond the grave ; she moaned like a wild beast, 
but her attitude was that of a goddess ; the mouth, 
which uttered imprecations, was set in a flaming mask. 
Nothing could have been more regal than her eyes shoot- 
ing lightnings through her tears. Her look blasted the 

The marquis listened. The mother's voice flung its 
echoes down upon his head, — inarticulate, heart-rend- 
ing ; sobs rather than words : — 

" Ah, my God, my children ! Those are my children Î 
Help ! Fire ! fire ! fire ! you brigands ! Is there no 
one here ? My children are burning up ! Georgette ! 
My babies ! Gros- Alain ! Eené-Jean ! What does it 
mean ? Who put my children there ? They are asleep. 
Oh, I am mad ! It is impossible ! Help, help ! " 

A great bustle and movement was apparent in La 
Tourgue and upon the plateau. The whole camp rushed 
out to the fire which had just burst forth. The besiegers, 
after meeting the grape-shot, had now to deal with the 
conflagration. Gauvain, Cimourdain, and Guéchamp 
were giving orders. What was to be done ? Only a few 
buckets of water could be drained from the half-dried 
brook of the ravine. The consternation increased. The 
whole edge of the plateau was covered with men whose 
troubled faces watched the progress of the flames. 
What they saw was terrible : they gazed, and could do 

The flames had spread along the ivy and reached the 
topmost story, leaping greedily upon the straw with 
which it was filled. The entire granary was burning 


now. The flames wreathed and danced as if in fiendish 
joy. A cruel breeze fanned the pyre. One could fancy 
the evil spirit of Imânus urging on the fire, and rejoi- 
cing in the destruction which had been his last earthly 
crime. The library, though between the two burning 
stories, was not yet on fire ; the height of its ceiling and 
the thickness of the walls retarded the fatal moment; 
but it was fast approaching. The flames from below 
licked the stones ; the flames from above whirled down 
to caress them with the awful embrace of death : be- 
neath, a cave of lava ; above, an arch of embers. If the 
floor fell first, the children would be flung into the lava 
stream; if the ceiling gave way, they would be buried 
beneath burning coals. 

The little ones slept still ; across the sheets of flame 
and smoke which now hid, now exposed the casements, 
the children were visible in that fiery grotto, within 
that meteoric glare, peaceful, lovely, motionless, like 
three confident cherubs slumbering in a hell. A tiger 
might have wept to see those angels in that furnace, 
those cradles in that tomb. 

And the mother was wringing her hands : " Fire ! I 
say, fire ! Are they all deaf, that nobody comes ? They 
are burning my children ! Come, come, you men that I 
see yonder ! Oh, the days and days that I have hunted, 
— and this is where I find them ! Fire ! Help ! Three 
angels, — to think of three angels burning there ! What 
have they done, the innocents ? They shot me ; they are 
burning my little ones ! Who is it does such things ? 
Help ! save my children ! Do you not hear me ? A 
dog, — one would have pity on a dog ! My children ! 
my children ! They are asleep. Georgette, — I see 
her face ! Kené- Jean, Gros- Alain, — those are their 
names : you may know I am their mother. Oh, it is 
horrible Î I have travelled days and nights ! Why, this 


very morning I talked of them with a woman ! Help, 
help ! Where are those monsters ? Horror, horror ! The 
eldest not five years old, the youngest not two. I can 
see their little bare legs. They are asleep, Holy Virgin ! 
Heaven gave them to me, and devils snatch them away. 
To think how far I have journeyed ! My children, that 
I nourished with my milk ! I, who thought myself 
wretched because I could not find them, — have pity on 
me ! I want my children ; I must have my children ! 
And there they are in the fire ! See, how my poor feet 
bleed ! Help ! It is not possible, if there are men on 
the earth, that my little ones will be left to die like 
this. Help! Murder! Oh, such a thing was never 
seen ! assassins ! What is that dreadful house there ? 
They stole my children from me in order to kill them. 
God of mercy, give me my children ! They shall not 
die! Help! help! help! Oh, I shall curse Heaven 
itself, if they die like that ! " 

While the mother's awful supplications rang out, 
other' voices rose upon the plateau and in the ravine. 

"A ladder!" 

" There is no ladder ! " 


" There is no water ! " 

" Up yonder, in the tower, on the second story, there 
is a door. " 

" It is iron. • 

" Break it in ! ■ 

" Impossible ! " 

And the mother, redoubling her agonized appeals: 
" Fire ! Help ! Hurry, I say, if you will not kill me ! 
My children, my children ! Oh, the horrible fire 1 Take 
them out of it, or throw me in ! " 

In the interval between these clamours the trium- 
phant crackling of the flames could be heard. 


The marquis put his hand in his pocket and touched 
the key of the iron door. Then, stooping again be- 
neath the vault through which he had escaped, he 
turned back into the passage from whence he had just 



A WHOLE army distracted by the impossibility of 
giving aid ; four thousand men unable to succour 
three children, — such was the situation. Not even a 
ladder to be had ; that sent from Javené had not arrived. 
The flaming space widened like a crater that opens. To 
attempt the staying of the fire by means of the half- 
dried brook would have been mad folly, — like flinging 
a glass of water on a volcano. 

Cimourdain, Guéchamp, and Radoub had descended 
into the ravine ; Gauvain remounted to the room in the 
second story of the tower, where were the stone that 
turned, the secret passage, and the iron door leading 
into the library. It was there that the sulphur-match 
had been lighted by Imanus ; from these the conflagra- 
tion had started. Gauvain took with him twenty sap- 
pers. There was no possible resource except to break 
open the iron door ; its fastenings were terribly secure. 
They began by blows with axes. The axes broke. A 
sapper said : " Steel snaps like glass against that iron. " 
The door was made of double sheets of wrought -iron, 
bolted together; each sheet three fingers in thickness. 
They took iron bars and tried to shake the door beneath 
their blows ; the bars broke * like matches I " said one 
of the sappers. 


Gauvain murmured gloomily : " Nothing but a ball 
eould open that door. If we could only get a cannon 
up here ! " 

" But how to do it ? " answered the sapper. 

There was a moment of consternation. Those power- 
less arms ceased their efforts. Mute, conquered, dis- 
mayed, these men stood staring at the immovable door. 
A red reflection crept from beneath it ; behind, the con- 
flagration was each instant increasing. The frightful 
corpse of Imânus lay on the floor, — a demoniac victor. 
Only a few moments more and the whole bridge-castle 
might fall in. What could be done ? There was not a 
hope left. 

Gauvain, with his eyes fixed on the turning-stone and 
the secret passage, cried furiously : " It was by that the 
Marquis de Lantenac escaped. " 

" And returns, " said a voice. 

The face of a white'-haired man appeared in the stone 
frame of the secret opening. It was the marquis ! 
Many years had passed since Gauvain had seen that 
face so near. He recoiled. The rest all stood petrified 
with astonishment. 

The marquis held a large key in his hand; he cast a 
haughty glance upon the sappers standing before him, 
walked straight to the iron door, bent beneath the arch, 
and put the key in the lock. The iron creaked, the 
door opened, revealing a gulf of flame ; the marquis en- 
tered it. He entered with a firm step, his head erect. 
The lookers-on followed him with their eyes. The mar- 
quis had scarcely moved half a dozen paces down the 
blazing hall when the floor, undermined by the fire, gave 
way beneath his feet and opened a precipice between 
him and the door. He did not even turn his head, — he 
walked steadily on. He disappeared in the smoke. 
Nothing more could be seen. 


Had the marquis been able to advance farther ? Had 
a new gulf of fire opened beneath his feet ? Had he only 
succeeded in destroying himself ? They could not tell. 
They had before them only a wall of smoke and flame, 
The marquis was beyond that, living or dead. 



'T^HE little ones opened their eyes at last. The con 
-*- flagration had not yet entered the library, but it 
cast a rosy glow across the ceiling. The children had 
never seen an aurora like that ; they watched it. Geor- 
gette was in ecstasies. 

The conflagration unfurled all its splendours ; the 
black hydra and the scarlet dragon appeared amidst the 
wreathing smoke in awful darkness and gorgeous ver- 
milion. Long streaks of flame shot far out and illumi- 
nated the shadows, like opposing comets pursuing one 
another. Fire is recklessly prodigal with its treasures-; 
its furnaces are filled with gems which it flings to the 
winds ; it is not for nothing that charcoal is identical 
with the diamond. Fissures had opened in the wall of 
the upper story, through which the embers poured like 
cascades of jewels ; the heaps of straw and oats burning 
in the granary began to stream out of the windows in 
an avalanche of golden rain, the oats turning to ame- 
thysts and the straw to carbuncles. 

" Pretty ! " said Georgette. 

They all three raised themselves. 

" Ah ! " cried the mother. " They have wakened ! M 

René- Jean got up, then Gros-Alain, and Georgette 
followed. René-Jean stretched his arms toward the 
window and said, " I am warm. " 


" Me warm, cooed Georgette. 

The mother shrieked : " My children î René ! Alain ! 
Georgette ! " 

The little ones looked about. They strove to com- 
prehend. When men are frightened, children are only 
curious. He who is easily astonished is difficult to 
alarm ; ignorance is intrepidity. Children have so little 
claim to purgatory that if they saw it they would 

The mother repeated : " René ! Alain ! Georgette ! " 

René- Jean turned his head; that voice roused him 
from his reverie. Children have short memories, but 
their recollections are swift ; the whole past is yester- 
day to them. René-Jean saw his mother; found that 
perfectly natural ; and feeling a vague want of support 
in the midst of those strange surroundings, he called 
" Mamma ! " 

" Mamma ! " said Gros-Alain. 

"M'ma!" said Georgette. And she held out her 
little arms. 

" My children ! " shrieked the mother. 

All three went close to the window-ledge ; fortunately 
the fire was not on that side. 

"I am too warm," said René- Jean. He .added, "It 
burns. " Then his eyes sought the mother. " Come 
here, mamma ! " he cried. 

" Turn, m'ma," repeated Georgette. 

The mother, with her hair streaming about her face, 
her garments torn, her feet and hands bleeding, let 
herself roll from bush to bush down into the ravine 
Cimourdain and Guéchamp were there, as powerless as 
Gauvain was above. The soldiers, desperate at being 
able to do nothing, swarmed about. The heat was in 
supportable, but nobody felt it. They looked at th 
bridge, the height of the arches, the different stories of 


the castle, — the inaccessible windows. Help to be of 
any avail must come at once. Three stories to climb ; 
no way of doing it ! 

Radoub, wounded, with a sabre-cut on his shoulder 
and one ear torn off, rushed forward dripping with sweat 
and blood. He saw Michelle Fléehard. " Hold ! " cried 
he. " The woman that was shot ! So you have come to 
life again ? " 

" My children ! " groaned the mother. 

u You are right, " answered Radoub ; " we have no time 
to occupy ourselves about ghosts. " He attempted to 
climb the bridge, but in vain ; he dug his nails in be- 
tween the stones and clung there for a few seconds, but 
the layers were as smoothly joined as if the wall had 
been new; Radoub fell back. 

The conflagration swept on, each instant growing more 
terrible. They could see the heads of the three children 
framed in the red light of the window. In his frenzy 
Radoub shook his clinched hand at the sky, and shouted, 
" Is there no mercy yonder ? " 

The mother, on her knees, clung to one of the piers, 
crying, " Mercy, mercy ! " 

The hollow sound of cracking timbers rose above the 
roar of the flames. The panes of glass in the book-cases 
of the library cracked and fell with a crash. It was 
evident that the timber- work had given way. Human 
strength could do nothing. Another moment and the 
whole would fall. The soldiers only waited for the final 
catastrophe. They could hear the little voices repeat, 
" Mamma ! mamma ! " The whole crowd was paralyzed 
with horror! 

Suddenly, at the casement near that where the chil- 
dren stood, a tall form appeared against the crimson 
background of the flames. Every head was raised, every 
eye fixed. A man was above there, — a man in the 


library, in the furnace ! The face showed black against 
the flames, but they could see the white hair; they rec- 
ognized the Marquis de Lantenac. He disappeared, then 
appeared again. The indomitable old man stood in the 
window shoving out an enormous ladder. It was the 
escape-ladder deposited in the library ; he had seen it 
lying upon the floor and dragged it to the window. 
He held it by one end ; with the marvellous agility of 
an athlete he slipped it out of the casement, and slid 
it along the wall d@wn into the ravine. 

Eadoub folded his arms about the ladder as it de- 
scended within his reach, crying, " Long live the 

The marquis shouted, " Long live the King ! " 

Eadoub muttered : " You may cry what you like, and 
talk nonsense if you please, you are an angel of mercy 
all the same. " 

The ladder was settled in place, and communication 
established between the burning floor and the ground. 
Twenty men rushed up, Eadoub at their head, and in 
the twinkling of an eye they were hanging to the rungs 
from the top to the bottom, making a human ladder. 
He had his face turned toward the conflagration. The 
little army scattered among the heath and along the 
sides of the ravine pressed forward, overcome by con- 
tending emotions, upon the plateau, into the ravine, out 
on the platform of the tower. 

The marquis disappeared again, then reappeared bear- 
ing a child in his arms. There was a tremendous clap- 
ping of hands. The marquis had seized the first little 
one that he found within reach. It was Gros-AIaiu. 

Gros-Alain cried, " I am afraid. " 

The marquis gave the boy to Eadoub ; Eadoub passed 
him on to the soldier behind, who passed him to an- 
other; and just as Gros-Alain, greatly frightened and 


sobbing loudly, was given from hand to hand to the 
bottom of the ladder, the marquis, who had been absent 
for a moment, returned to the window with Eené-Jean» 
who struggled and wept and beat Eadoub with his little 
fists as the marquis passed him on to the sergeant. 

The marquis went back into the chamber that was 
now filled with flames. Georgette was there alone. He 
went up to her. She smiled. This man of granite felt 
his eyelids grow moist. He asked, " What is your 
name ? " 

" Orgette, " said she. 

He took her in his arms : she was still smiling, and 
at the instant he handed her to Eadoub, that conscience, 
so lofty and yet so darkened, was dazzled by the beauty 
of innocence : the old man kissed the child. 

" It is the little girl ! " said the soldiers ; and Geor- 
gette in her turn descended from arm to arm till she 
reached the ground, amidst cries of exultation. They 
clapped their hands ; they leaped ; the old grenadiers 
sobbed, and she smiled at them. 

The mother stood at the foot of the ladder breathless, 
mad, intoxicated by this change, — flung, without tran- 
sition, from hell into paradise. Excess of joy lacerates 
the heart in its own way. She extended her arms ; she 
received first Gros-Alain, then Eené-Jean, then Geor- 
gette. She covered them with frantic kisses, then burst 
into a wild laugh and fainted. 

A great cry rose : " They are all saved. * 

All were indeed saved, except the old man. But no 
one thought of him, — not even he himself, perhaps. 
He remained for a few instants leaning against the win- 
dow-ledge lost in a reverie, as if he wished to leave the 
gulf of flames time to make a decision. Then, without 
the least haste, slowly indeed and proudly, he stepped 
over the window-sill, and erect, upright, his shoulders 


against the rungs, having the coDfiagration at his back, 
the depth before him, he began to descend the ladder in 
silence, with the majesty of a phantom. 

The men who were on the ladder sprang off; every 
witness shuddered. About this man thus descending 
from that height there was a sacred horror as about a 
vision ; but he plunged calmly into the darkness before 
him. They recoiled ; he drew nearer them. The mar- 
ble pallor of his face showed no emotion ; his haughty 
eyes were calm and cold. At each step he made toward 
those men whose wondering eyes gazed upon him out of 
the darkness, he seemed to tower higher; the ladder 
shook and echoed under his firm tread . one might have 
thought him the statue of the " Commendatore " descend- 
ing anew into his sepulchre. 

As the marquis reached the bottom, and his foot left 
the last rung and planted itself on the ground, a hand 
seized his shoulder. He turned about. 

" I arrest you, " said Cimourdain. 

" I approve of what you do, " said Lantenec. 





*T*HE marquis had indeed descended into the tomb. 

**■ He was led away. 

The crypt dungeon of the ground-floor of La Tourgue 
was immediately opened under Cimourdain's lynx-eyed 
superintendence. A lamp was placed within, a jug of 
water and a loaf of soldier's bread ; a bundle of straw 
was flung on the ground, and in less than a quarter of 
an hour from the instant when the priest's hand seized 
Lantenac the door of the dungeon closed upon him. 
This done, Cimourdain went to find Gauvain; at that 
instant eleven o'clock sounded from the distant church- 
clock of Parigné. 

Cimourdain said to his former pupil : " I am going to 
convoke a court-martial ; you will not be there. You 
are a Gauvain, and Lantenac is a Gauvain. You are too 
near a kinsman to be his judge; I blame Egalité for 
having voted upon Capet's sentence. The court-martial 
will be composed of three judges, — an officer, Captain 
Guéchamp ; a non-commissioned officer, Sergeant Radoub ; 
and myself. I shall preside. Nothing of all this con- 
cerns you any longer. We will conform to the decree 
of the Convention ; we will confine ourselves to proving 


the identity of the ci-devant Marquis de Lantenae. To- 
morrow the court-martial ; day after to-morrow the guil- 
lotine. The Vendée is dead. " 

Gauvain did not answer a word, and Cimourdain, pre- 
occupied by the final task which remained for him to 
fulfil, left the young man alone. Cimourdain had to 
decide upon the hour, and choose the place. He had — 
like Lequinio at Granville, like Tallien at Bordeaux, 
like Châlier at Lyons, like Saint-Just at Strasbourg — 
the habit of assisting personally at executions ; it was 
considered a good example for the judge to come and 
see the headsman do his work, —a custom borrowed by 
the Terror of '93 from the parliaments of France and 
the Inquisition of Spain. 

Gauvain also was preoccupied. A cold wind moaned 
up from the. forest. Gauvain left Guéchamp to give the 
necessary orders, went to his tent in the meadow which 
stretched along the edge of the wood at the foot of La 
Tourgue, took his hooded cloak and enveloped himself 
therein. This cloak was bordered with the simple 
galoon which, according to the republican custom 
(chary of ornament), designated the commander-in-chief. 
He began to walk about in this bloody field where the 
attack had begun. He was alone there. The fire still 
continued, but no one any longer paid attention to it. 
Radoub was beside the children and their mother, al- 
most as maternal as she. The bridge-castle was nearly 
consumed ; the sappers hastened the destruction. The 
soldiers were digging trenches in order to bury the dead ; 
the wounded were being cared for ; the retirade had been 
demolished ; the chambers and stairs disencumbered of 
the dead ; the soldiers were cleansing the scene of car- 
nage, sweeping away the terrible rubbish of the victory, 
— with true military rapidity setting everything in 
order after the battle. 


Gauvain saw nothing of all this. So profound was 
his reverie that he scarcely cast a glance toward the 
guard about the tower, doubled by the orders of Cimour- 
dain. He could distinguish the breach through the ob- 
scurity, perhaps two hundred feet away from the corner 
of the held where he had taken refuge. He could see 
the black opening. It was there the attack had begun 
three hours before; it was by this dark gap that he 
(Gauvain) had penetrated into the tower ; there was the 
ground-floor where the retirade had stood ; it was on 
that same floor that the door of the marquis's prison 
opened. The guard at the breach watched this dun- 
geon. While his eyes were absently fixed upon the 
heath, in his ear rang confusedly, like the echo of a 
knell, these words : " To-morrow the court-martial ; day 
after to-morrow, the guillotine. " 

The conflagration, which had been isolated, and upon 
which the sappers had thrown all the water that could 
be procured, did not die away without resistance ; it 
still cast out intermittent flames. At moments the 
cracking of the ceilings could be heard, and the crash 
one upon another of the different stories as they fell in 
a common ruin ; then a whirlwind of sparks would fly 
through the air, as if a gigantic torch had been shaken ; 
a glare like lightning illuminated the farthest verge of 
the horizon, and the shadow of La Tourgue, growing 
suddenly colossal, spread out to the edge of the forest. 

Gauvain walked slowly to and fro amidst the gloom 
in front of the breach. At intervals he clasped his two 
hands at the back of his head, covered with his soldier's 
hood. He was thinking. 

vol. aroo. — 6 



FTIS reverie was fathomless. A seemingly impossi- 
■*■ ■*■ ble change had taken place. The Marquis de 
Lantenac had been transfigured. 

Gauvain had been a witness of this transfiguration. 
He would never have believed that such a state of affairs 
would arrive from any complication of events, whatever 
they might be. Never would he have imagined, even 
in a dream, that anything similar would be possible. 
The unexpected — that inexplicable power which plays 
with man at will — had seized Gauvain, and held him 
fast. He had before him the impossible become a real- 
ity, visible, palpable, inevitable, inexorable. What did 
he think of it — he, Gauvain? There was no chance of 
evasion ; the decision must be made. A question was 
put to him ; he could not avoid it. Put by whom ? By 
events. And not alone by events ; for when events, 
which are mutable, address a question to our souls, 
Justice, which is unchangeable, summons us to reply. 
Above the cloud which casts its shadow upon us is the 
star that sends toward us its light. We can no more 
escape from the light than from the shadow. 

Gauvain was undergoing an interrogatory. He had 
been arraigned before a judge : before a terrible judge, 
— his conscience. Gauvain felt every power of his soul 
vacillate. His resolutions the most solid, his promises 
the most piously uttered, his decisions the most irrevo- 


cable, all tottered in this terrible overwhelming of his 
will. There are moral earthquakes. The more he re- 
fleeted upon that which he had lately seen, the more 
confused he became. Gauvain, republican, believed 
himself, and was, just. A higher justice had revealed 
itself. Above the justice of revolutions is that of hu- 
manity. What had happened could not be eluded ; the 
case was grave ; Gauvain made part of it ; he could not 
withdraw himself ; and although Cimourdain had said 
" It concerns you no further, " he felt within his sou] 
the pang which a tree may feel when torn upward from 
its roots. 

Every man has a basis; a disturbance of this base 
causes a profound trouble ; it was what Gauvain now 
felt. He pressed his head between his two hands, 
searching for the truth. To state clearly a situation 
like his is not easy ; nothing could be more painful. 
He had before him the formidable ciphers which he 
must sum up into a total; to judge a human destiny by 
mathematical rules. His head whirled. He tried ; he 
endeavoured to consider the matter; he forced himself 
to collect his ideas, to discipline the resistance which 
he felt within himself, and to recapitulate the facts. 
He set them all before his mind. 

To whom has it not arrived to make such a report, 
and to interrogate himself in some supreme circum- 
stances upon the route which must be followed, — 
whether to advance or retreat? 

Gauvain had just been witness of a miracle. Before 
the earthly combat had fairly ended, there came a celes- 
tial struggle, — the conflict of good against evil. A 
'heart of adamant had been conquered. Given the man 
with all that he had of evil within him, violence, error, 
blindness, unwholesome obstinacy, pride, egotism, — 
Gauvain had just witnessed a miracle: the victory oJ 


humanity over the man. Humanity had conquered the 
inhuman. And by what means ; in what manner ? 
How had it been able to overthrow that colossus of 
wrath and hatred ? What arms had it employed ; what 
implement of war? The cradle! 

Gauvain had been dazzled. In the midst of social 
war, in the very blaze of all hatreds and all vengeances, 
at the darkest and most furious moment of the tumult, 
at the hour when crime gave all its fires, and hate all its 
blackness, — at that instant of conflict, when every sen- 
timent becomes a projectile ; when the mêlée is so fierce 
that one no longer knows what is justice, honesty, or 
truth, — suddenly the Unknown (mysterious warner of 
souls) sent the grand rays of eternal truth resplendent 
across human light and darkness. Above that sombre 
duel between the false and the relatively true, there, in 
the depths, the face of truth itself abruptly appeared. 
Suddenly the force of the feeble had interposed. He 
had seen three poor creatures, almost new born, unreason- 
ing, abandoned, orphans, alone, lisping, smiling ; having 
against them civil war, retaliation, the horrible logic of 
reprisals, murder, carnage, fratricide, rage, hatred, all 
the Gordons, — he had seen them triumph against those 
powers. He had seen the defeat and extinction of a 
horrible conflagration that had been charged to commit 
a crime; he had seen atrocious premeditations discon. 
certed and brought to naught ; he had seen ancient feu- 
dal ferocity, inexorable disdain, professed experiences 
of the necessities of war, reasons of State, all the arro- 
gant resolves of a savage old age, vanish before the clear 
gaze of those who had not yet lived. And this was 
natural ; for he who has not yet lived has dore no evil : 
he is justice, truth, purity ; and the highest angels of 
heaven hover about those souls of little children. 

A useful spectacle, a counsel, a lesson. The mad* 


dened, merciless combatants, in face of all the projects, 
all the outrages of war, fanaticism, assassination, re- 
venge kindling the fagots, death coming torch in hand, 
had suddenly seen all-powerful Innocence raise itself 
above this enormous legion of crimes. And Innocence 
had conquered. One could say : No, civil war does not 
exist ; barbarism does not exist ; hatred does not exist ; 
crime does not exist ; darkness does not exist. To scat- 
ter these spectres it only needed that divine aurora, -^ 
innocence. Never in any conflict had Satan and God 
been more plainly visible. 

This conflict had a human conscience for its arena. 
The conscience of Lantenac. Now the battle began 
again — more desperate, more decisive still perhaps — 
in another conscience, — the conscience of Gauvain. 

What a battle-ground is the soul of man ! We are 
given up to those gods, those monsters, those giants, - — 
our thoughts. Often these terrible belligerents trample 
our very souls down in their mad conflict. 

Gauvain meditated. The Marquis de Lantenac, sur- 
rounded, doomed, condemned, outlawed; shut in like 
the wild beast in the circus, held like a nail in the pin- 
cers, enclosed in his refuge become his prison, bound on 
every side by a wall of iron and fire, — had succeeded in 
stealing away. He had performed a miracle in escap- 
ing; he had accomplished that masterpiece, — the most 
difficult of all in such a war, — flight. He had again 
taken possession of the forest, to intrench himself there- 
in; of the district, to fight there; of the shadow, to 
disappear within it. He had once more become the 
formidable, the dangerous wanderer, the captain of the 
invincibles the chief of the underground forces, the mas- 
ter of the woods. Gauvain had the victory, but Lante- 
nac had his liberty. Henceforth Lantenac had security 
before him, limitless freedom, an inexhaustible choice 


of asylums. He was indiscernible, unapproachable, in- 
accessible. The lion had been taken in the snare, and 
had broken through. 

Well, he had re-entered it. The Marquis de Lantenac 
had voluntarily, spontaneously, by his own free act, left 
the forest, the shadow, security, liberty, to return U 
that horrible peril : intrepid when Gauvain saw him the 
first time plunge into the conflagration at the risk of 
being ingulfed therein ; intrepid a second time, when 
he descended that ladder which delivered him to his 
enemies, — a ladder of escape to others, of perdition to 
him. And why had he thus acted ? To save three 
children. And now what was it they were about to do 
to this man ? Guillotine him. Had these three chil- 
dren been his own ? No. Of his family ? No. Of his 
rank ? No. For three little beggars — chance children, 
foundlings, unknown, ragged, barefooted — this noble, 
this prince, this old man, free, safe, triumphant (for 
evasion is a triumph), had risked all, compromised all, 
lost all; and at the same time he restored the babes, 
had proudly brought his own head, — and this head, 
hitherto terrible, but now august, he offered to his foes. 
And what were they about to do ? Accept the sacrifice. 

The Marquis de Lantenac had had the choice between 
the life of others and his own : in this superb option he 
had chosen death. And it was to be granted him ; he 
was to be killed. What a reward for heroism ! Ee- 
spond to a generous act by a barbarous one ! What a 
degrading of the Eevolution, what a belittling of the 
Eepublic ! As this man of prejudice and servitude, 
suddanly transformed, returned into the circle of hu- 
manity, the men who strove for deliverance and freedom 
elected to cling to the horrors of civil war, to the rou- 
tine of blood, to fratricide ! The divine law of forgive- 
ess, abnegation, redemption, sacrifice, existed for the 


combatants of error, and did not exist for the soldiers 
of truth ! What ! Not to make a struggle in magna- 
nimity : resign themselves to this defeat ? They, the 
stronger, to show themselves the weaker; they, victo- 
rious, to become assassins, and cause it to be said that 
there were those on the side of monarchy who saved 
children, and those on the side of the Eepublic whc 
slew old men ? 

The world would see this great soldier, this powerful 
octogenarian, this disarmed warrior, — stolen rather 
than captured, seized in the performance of a good ac- 
tion ; seized by his own permission, with the sweat of a 
noble devotion still upon his brow, — mount the steps of 
the scaffold as he would mount to the grandeur of an 
apotheosis ! And they would put beneath the knife that 
head about which w^ould circle, as suppliants, the souls 
of the three little angels he had saved ! And before this 
punishment — infamous for the butchers — a smile 
would be seen on the face of that man, and the blush of 
shame on the face of the Eepublic ! And this would be 
accomplished in the presence of Gauvain, the chief. 
And he who might hinder this would abstain. He 
would rest content under that haughty absolution, " This 
concerns thee no longer. " And he was not even to say 
to himself that in such a case abdication of authority 
was complicity! He was not to perceive that of two 
men engaged in an action so hideous, he who permits 
the thing is worse than the man who does the work, be- 
cause he is the coward! 

But this death, — had he, Gauvain, not promised it ? 
Had not he, the merciful, declared that Lantenac should 
have no mercy ; that he would himself deliver Lantenac 
to Cimourdain ? That head, — he owed it. Well, he 
would pay the debt; so be it. But was it, indeed, the 
same head. 


Hitherto Gauvain had seen in Lantenac only the bar- 
foarous warrior, the fanatic of royalty and feudalism, the 
slaughterer of prisoners, an assassin whom war had let 
loose, a man of blood. That man he had not feared ; he 
had proscribed that proscriber : the implacable would 
have found him inexorable. Nothing more simple : the 
road was marked out and terribly plain to follow ; every- 
thing foreseen : those who killed must be killed ; the 
path of horror was clear and straight. Unexpectedly 
that straight line had been broken ; a sudden turn in 
the way revealed a new horizon ; a metamorphosis had 
taken place. An unknown Lantenac entered upon the 
scene. A hero sprang up from the monster : more than 
a hero, — a man; more than a soul, — a heart. It was no 
longer a murderer that Gauvain had before him, but a 
saviour. Gauvain was flung to the earth by a flood of 
celestial radiance. Lantenac had struck him with the 
thunder-bolt of generosity. 

And Lantenac transfigured could not transfigure Gau- 
vain ! What ! Was this stroke of light to produce no 
counter-stroke ? Was the man of the Past to push on 
in front, and the man of the Future to fall back ? Was 
the man of barbarism and superstition suddenly to 
unfold angel pinions, and soar aloft to watch the man 
of the ideal crawl beneath him in the mire and the 
night ? Gauvain to lie wallowing in the blood-stained 
rut of the past, while Lantenac rose to a new existence 
in the sublime future ? 

Another thing still. Their family! This blood 
which he was about to spill, — for to let it be spilled 
was to spill it himself, — was not this his blood, his, 
Gauvain 's ? His grandfather was dead, but his grand- 
uncle lived, and this grand-uncle was the Marquis de 
Lantenac. Would not that ancestor who had gone to 
the grave rise to prevent his brother from being forced 


into it ? Would he not command his grandson hence- 
forth to respect that crown of white hairs, become pure 
as his own angelic halo ? Did not a spectre loom with 
indignant eyes between him, Gauvain, and Lantenac ? 
Was, then, the aim of the Revolution to denaturalize 
man ? Had she been born to break the ties of family 
and to stifle the instincts of humanity ? Far from it. 
It was to affirm these glorious realities, not to deny 
them, that '89 had risen. To overturn the bastiles was 
to deliver humanity; to abolish feudality was to found 
families. The author being the point from whence 
authority sets out, and authority being included in the 
author, there can be no other authority than paternity : 
hence the legitimacy of the queen-bee who creates her 
people, and who, being mother, is queen ; hence the 
absurdity of the king-man, who not being father, cannot 
be master. Hence the suppression of the king ; hence 
the Republic that comes from all this ! Family, hu- 
manity, revolution. Revolution is the accession of the 
peoples ; and, at the bottom, the People is Man. The 
thing to decide was, whether when Lantenac returned into 
humanity, Gauvain should return to his family. The 
thing to decide was, whether the uncle and nephew 
should meet again in a higher light, or whether the 
nephew's recoil should reply to the uncle's progress. 
The question in this pathetic debate between Gauvain 
and his conscience had resolved itself into this ; and 
the answer seemed to come of itself, — he must save 

Yes ; but France ? Here the dizzying problem sud- 
denly changed its face. What ! France at bay ? France 
betrayed, flung open, dismantled ? Having no longer a 
moat- Germany would cross the Rhine; no longer a 
wall, Italy would leap the Alps, and Spain the Pyre- 
nees. There would remain to France that great abyss, 


the ocean. She had for her the gulf; she could back 
herself against it, and, giantess, supported by the entire 
sea, could combat the whole earth, — a position, after 
all, impregnable. Yet no ; this position would fail her. 
The ocean no longer belonged to her. In this ocean 
was England. True, England was at a loss how to 
traverse it. Well, a man would fling her a bridge ; a 
man would extend his hand to her ; a man would go to 
Pitt, to Craig, to CornwaLlis, to Dundas, to the piraies, 
and say, " Come ! " A man would cry, " England, seize 
Erance ! " And this man was the Marquis de Lantenac. 
This man was now held fast. After three months of 
chase, of pursuit, of frenzy, he had at last been taken. 
The hand of the Eevolution had just closed upon the 
accursed one ; the clinched fist of '93 had seized this 
royalist murderer by the throat. Through that mys- 
terious premeditation from on high which mixes itself 
in human affairs, it was in the dungeon belonging to 
his family that this parricide awaited his punishment. 
The feudal lord was in the feudal oubliette. The stones 
of his own castle rose against him and shut him in, and 
he who had sought to betray his country had been be- 
trayed by his own dwelling. God had visibly arranged 
all this ; the hour had sounded ; the Eevolution had 
Imken prisoner this public enemy ; he could no longer 
fight, he could no longer struggle, he could no longer 
harm. In this Vendée, which owned so many arms, 
his was the sole brain ; with his extinction, civil war 
would be extinct. He was held fast, — tragic and fortu- 
nate conclusion ! After so many massacres, so much 
carnage, he was a captive, this man who had slain so 
pitilessly ; and it was his turn to die. 

And if some one should be found to save him! 
Cimourdain, that is to say, '93, held Lantenac, that is 
to say, Monarchy ; and could any one be found to snatch 


its prey from that hand of bronze ? Lantenac, the man 
in whom concentrated that sheaf of scourges called the 
Past, — the Marquis de Lantenac, — was in the tomb ; 
the heavy eternal door had closed upon him ; would 
some one come from without to draw back the bolt? 
This social malefactor was dead, and with him died re- 
volt, fratricidal contest, bestial war; and would any 
one be found to resuscitate him ? Oh, how that death's- 
head would laugh ! That spectre would say, " It is well : 
I live again, — the idiots ! " How he would once more 
set himself at his hideous work. How joyously and 
implacably this Lantenac would plunge anew into the 
gulf of war and hatred, and on the morrow would be 
seen again houses burning, prisoners massacred, the 
wounded slain, women shot! 

And, after all, did not Gauvain exaggerate this action 
which had fascinated him ? Three children were lost ; 
Lantenac saved them. But who had flung them into 
that peril ? Was it not Lantenac ? Who had set those 
three cradles in the heart of the conflagration ? Was it 
not Imânus ? Who was Imânus? The lieutenant of 
the marquis. The one responsible is the chief. Hence 
the incendiary and the assassin was Lantenac. What 
had he done so admirable ? He had not persisted, — that 
was all. After having conceived the crime, he had re- 
coiled before it. He had become horrified at himself. 
That mother's cry had wakened in him those remains of 
human mercy which exist in all souls, even the most 
hardened ; at this cry he had returned upon his steps. 
Out of the night where he had buried himself, he has- 
tened toward the day ; after having brought about the 
crime, he caused its defeat. His whole merit consisted 
in this, — not to have been a monster to the end. 

And in return for so little, to restore him all. To 
give him freedom, the fields, the plains, air, day ; restore 


to him the forest, which he would employ to shelter his 
bandits ; restore him liberty, which he would use to 
bring about slavery ; restore life, which he would de- 
vote to death. As for trying to come to an understand- 
ing with him ; attempting to treat with that arrogant 
soul ; propose his deliverance under certain conditions ; 
demand if he would consent, were his life spared, hence- 
forth to abstain from all hostilities and all revolt, — 
what an error such an offer would be Î what an advan- 
tage it would give him ! against what scorn would the 
proposer wound himself ! how he would freeze the ques- 
tioner by his response, " Keep such shame for yourself: 
kill me ! " 

There was, in short, nothing to do with this man but 
to slay or set him free. He was ever ready to soar or to 
sacrifice himself ; his strange soul held at once the eagle 
and the abyss. To slay him, — what a pang ! To set 
him free, — what a responsibility ! Lan tenac saved, all 
was to begin anew with the Vendée, — like a struggle 
with a hydra whose heads had not been severed. In the 
twinkling of an eye, with the rapidity of a meteor, the 
flame extinguished by this man's disappearance would 
blaze up again. Lantenac would never stop to rest 
until he had carried out that execrable plan, — to fling, 
like the cover of a tomb, Monarchy upon the Eepublic, 
and England upon France. To save Lantenac was to 
sacrifice France. Life to Lantenac was death to a host of 
innocent beings, — men, women, children, caught anew 
in that domestic war ; it was the landing of the English, 
the recoil of the Eevolution ; it was the sacking of the 
villages, the rending of the people, the mangling of 
Brittany ; it was flinging the prey back into the tiger's 
claw. And Gauvain, in the midst of uncertain gleams 
and rays of introverted light, beheld, vaguely sketched 
across his reverie, this problem rise, — the setting the 
tiger at liberty. 


And then the question reappeared under its first 
aspect, the stone of Sisyphus, which is nothing other 
than the combat of man with himself, fell back. Was 
Lantenac that tiger? Perhaps he had been; but was 
he still ? 

G-auvain was dizzy beneath the whirl and conflict in 
his soul; his thoughts turned and circled upon them- 
selves with serpentine swiftness. After the closest ex- 
amination, could any one deny Lantenac 's devotion; his 
stoical self-abnegation, his superb disinterestedness ? 
What ! to attest his humanity in the presence of the 
open jaws of civil war ! What ! in this contest of in- 
ferior truths, to bring the highest truth of all! What! 
to prove that above royalties above revolutions above 
earthly questions, is the grand tenderness of the human 
soul, — the recognition of the protection due to the fee- 
ble from the strong, the safety due to those who are 
perishing from those who are saved, the paternity due 
to all little children from all old men ! To prove these 
magnificent truths by the gift of his head ! to be a 
general, and renounce strategy, battle, revenge ! What ! 
to be a royalist, and to take a balance and put in one 
scale the King of France, a monarchy of fifteen cen- 
turies, old laws to re-establish, ancient society to re- 
store, and in the other three little unknown peasants. 
and to find the king, the throne, the sceptre, and fifteen 
centuries of monarchy too light to weigh against these 
three innocent creatures ! What ! was all that nothing ? 
What! could he who had done this remain a tiger! 
Ought he to be treated like a wild beast ? No, no, no ! 
The man who had just illuminated the abyss of civil 
war by the light of a divine action was not a monster. 
The sword-bearer was metamorphosed into the angel of 
day. The infernal Satan had again become the celestial. 
Lucifer, Lantenac had atoned for all his barbarities 


by one act of sacrifice; in losing himself materially 
he had saved himself morally ; he had become inno- 
cent again, he had signed his own pardon. Does not 
the right of self-forgiveness exist ? Henceforth he was 

Lantenac had just shown himself almost superhuman ; 
it was now Gauvain 's turn. Gauvain was called upon 
to answer him. The struggle of good and evil passions 
made the world a chaos at this epoch : Lantenac, domi- 
nating the chaos, had just brought humanity out of it ; 
it now remained for Gauvain to bring forth their family 

What was he about to do? Was Gauvain about to 
betray the trust Providence had shown in him ? No ; 
and he murmured within himself, " Let us save Lan- 
tenac. " And a voice answered, " It is well. Go on ; 
aid the English ; desert ; pass over to the enemy. Save 
Lantenac and betray France ! " And Gauvain shud- 
dered. " Thy solution is no solution, O dreamer ! " 
Gauvain saw the Sphinx smile bitterly in the 

This situation was a sort of formidable meeting- 
ground where hostile truths confronted one another, and 
where the three highest ideas of man — humanity, fam- 
ily, country — looked in one another's faces. Each of 
these voices took up the word in its turn, and each 
uttered truth. Each in its turn seemed to find the point 
where wisdom and justice met, and said, " Do this ! " 
Was that the thing he ought to do ? Yes : no. Season- 
ing said one thing, and feeling another : the two coun- 
sels were in direct opposition. Eeasoning is only reason ; 
feeling is often conscience. The one comes from man 
himself, the other from a higher source; hence it is that 
feeling has less clearness and more power. Still, what 
force stern reason possesses ! 


Gauvain hesitated. Maddening perplexity! Two 
abysses opened before him. Should he let the marquis 
perish ? Should he save him ? He must plunge into 
one depth or the other. Toward which of the two gulfs 
did Duty point? 



JT was» after all, with Duty that these victors had ta 
deal. Duty raised herself, — stern to Ciniourdain's 
eyes ; terrible to those of Gauvain. Simple before the 
one; complex, diverse, tortuous, before the other. 

Midnight sounded; then one o'clock. Without being 
conscious of it, Gauvain had gradually approached the 
entrance to the breach. The expiring conflagration only 
flung out intermittent gleams ; the plateau on the other 
side of the tower caught the reflection and became visi- 
ble for an instant, then disappeared from view as the 
smoke swept over the flames. This glare, reviving in 
jets and cut by sudden shadows, disproportioned objects, 
and made the sentinels look like phantoms. Lost in 
his reverie, Gauvain mechanically watched the strife 
between the flame and smoke. These appearances and 
disappearances of the light before his eyes had a strange, 
subtle analogy with the revealing and concealment of 
truth in his soul. 

Suddenly, between two clouds of smoke, a long streak 
of flame, shot out from the dying brazier, illuminated 
vividly the summit of the plateau, and brought out the 
skeleton of a wagon against the vermilion background. 
Gauvain stared at this wagon. It was surrounded by 
horsemen wearing gendarmes' hats; it seemed to him 
the wagon which he had looked at through Guéchamp's 
glass several hours before, when the sun was setting 


and the wagon away off on the verge of the horizon. 
Some men were mounted on the cart and appeared to be 
unloading it; that which they took off seemed to be 
heavy, and now and then gave out the sound of clank- 
ing iron. It would have been difficult to tell what it 
was; it looked like beams for a frame-work. Two of 
the men lifted between them and set upon the ground a 
box, which, as well as he could judge by the shape, 
contained a triangular object. 

The flame sank ; all was again buried in darkness. 
Gauvain stood with fixed eyes lost in thought upon that 
which the darkness hid. Lanterns were lighted, men 
came and went on the plateau ; but the forms of those 
moving about were confused, and, moreover, Gauvain 
was below and on the other side of the ravine, and there- 
fore could see little of what was passing. Voices spoke, 
but he could not catch the words. Now and then came 
a sound like the shock of timbers striking together. He 
could hear also a strange metallic creaking, like the 
sharpening of a scythe. 

Two o'clock struck. Slowly, and like one who strove 
to retreat and yet was forced by some invisible power to 
advance, Gauvain approached the breach. As he came 
near, the sentinel recognized in the shadow the cloak 
and braided hood of the commandant, and presented 
arms. Gauvain entered the hall of the ground -floor, 
which had been transformed into a guard-room. A 
lantern hung from the roof ; it cast just light enough so 
that one could cross the hall without treading upon the 
soldiers who lay, most of them asleep, upon the straw. 
There they lay ; they had been fighting a few hours be- 
fore ; the grape-shot, partially swept away, scattered its 
grains of iron and lead over the floor and troubled then 
repose somewhat, but they were weary, and so slept 
This hall had been the battle-ground, the scene of fren« 

VOL. XVIII» — 6 


zied attack ; there men had groaned, howled, ground 
their teeth, struck out blindly in their death-agony, and 
expired. Many of these sleepers' companions had fallen 
dead upon this floor, where they now lay down in their 
weariness; the straw which served them for a pillow 
had drunk the blood of their comrades. Now all was 
ended; the blood had ceased to flow, the sabres were 
dried; the dead were dead; these sleepers slumbered 
peacefully. Such is war. And then, perhaps to morrow, 
the slumber of all will be the same. 

At Gauvain 's entrance a few of the men rose, -— 
among others, the officer in command. Gauvain pointed 
to the door of the dungeon. " Open it, " he said to the 
officer. The bolts were drawn back ; the door opened. 
Gauvain entered the dungeon. The door closed behind 





A LAMP was placed on the flags of the crypt at the 
side of the air-hole in the oubliette. There could 
also be seen on the stones a jug of water, a loaf of army 
bread, and a truss of straw. The crypt being cut out in 
the rock, the prisoner who had conceived the idea of 
setting fire to the straw would have done it to his own 
hurt, — no risk of conflagration to the prison, certainty 
of suffocation to the prisoner. 

At the instant the door turned on its hinges the mar- 
quis was walking to and fro in his dungeon, — ■ that 
mechanical pacing natural to wild animals in a cage. 
At the noise of the opening and shutting of the door he 
raised his head, and the lamp which set on the floor be- 
tween Gauvain and the marquis struck full upon the 
faces of both men. They looked at each other, and 
something in the glance of either kept the two 

At length the marquis burst out laughing, and ex- 
claimed : " Good-evening, sir. It is a long time since 
I have had the pleasure of meeting you. You do me 
the favour of paying rne a visit; I thank you. I ask 


nothing better than to converse a little; I was begin- 
ning to bore myself. ¥our friends lose a great deal of 
time ; proofs of identity, court-martials, — all those 
ceremonies take a long while ; I could go much quicker 
at need. Here I am in my house ; take the trouble to 
enter. Well, what do you say of all that is happening ? 
Original, is it not ? Once on a time there was a king 
and a queen : the king was the king ; the queen was — ■ 
France. They cut the king's head off, and married the 
queen to Kobespierre; this gentleman and that lady 
have a daughter named Guillotine, with whom it ap- 
pears I am to make acquaintance to-morrow morning. 
I shall be delighted — as I am to see you. Did you 
come about that ? Have you risen in rank ? Shall you 
be the headsman ? If it is a simple visit of friendship, 
I am touched. Perhaps, Viscount, you no longer know 
what a nobleman is ; well, you see one, — it is I. Look 
at the specimen. It is an odd race.; it believes in God, 
it believes in tradition, it believes in family, it believes 
in its ancestors, it believes in the example of its father, 
— in fidelity, loyalty, duty toward its prince, respect 
to ancient laws, virtue, justice ; and it would shoot you 
with pleasure. Have the goodness to sit down, I pray 
you, — on the stones, it must be, it is true, for I have 
no armchair in my salon ; but he who lives in the mire 
can sit on the ground. I do not say that to offend you, 
for what we call the ' mire ' you call the ' nation. ' I 
fancy that you do not insist I shall shout ' Liberty, 
Equality, Fraternity ' ? This is an ancient chamber of 
my house : formerly the lords imprisoned clowns here ; 
now clowns imprison the lords. These stupidities are 
called a Eevolution. It appears that my head is to be 
cut off in thirty-six hours. I see nothing inconvenient 
in that ; still, if my captors had been polite, they would 
have sent me my snuff-box : it is up in the chamber of 


the mirrors, where you used to play when you were a 
child, where I used to dance you on my knees. Sir, let 
me tell you one thing : You call yourself Gauvain, and, 
strange to say, you have noble blood in your veins, — 
yes, by Heaven ! the same that runs in mine ; yet the 
blood that made me a man of honour makes you a rascal. 
Such are personal idiosyncrasies ! You will tell me it is 
not your fault that you are a rascal ; nor is it mine that 
I am a gentleman. Zounds ! one is a malefactor without 
knowing it : it comes from the air one breathes. In 
times like these of ours one is not responsible for what 
one does ; the Eevolution is guilty for the whole world, 
and all your great criminals are great innocents. What 
blockheads ! To begin with yourself. Permit me to 
admire you. Yes, I admire a youth like you, who, a 
man of quality, well placed in the State, having noble 
blood to shed in a noble cause, Viscount of this Tower- 
Gauvain, Prince of Brittany, able to be duke by right, 
and peer of France by heritage, — which is about all a 
man of good sense could desire here below, — amuses 
himself, being what he is, to be what you are ; playing 
his part so well that he produces upon his enemies the 
effect of a villain, and on his friends of an idiot. By 
the way, give my compliments to the Abbé Cimourdain. " 
The marquis spoke perfectly at his ease, quietly, 
emphasizing nothing, in his polite society voice, his 
eyes clear and tranquil, his hand in his waistcoat- 
pocket. He broke off, drew a long breath, and re- 
sumed : " I do not conceal from you that I have done 
what I could to kill you. Such as you see me, I have 
myself, in person, three times aimed a cannon at you. 
A discourteous proceeding, — I admit it ; but it would 
be giving rise to a bad example to suppose that in war 
your enemy tries to make himself agreeable to you. 
For we are in war, monsieur my nephew ; everything is 


put to fire and sword. Into the bargain, it is true that 
they have killed the king. A pretty century ! " 

He checked himself again, and again resumed: 
" When one thinks that none of these things would 
have happened if Voltaire had been hanged and Kous- 
seau sent to the galleys ! Ah, those men of mind, — ■ 
what scourges ! But there, what is it you reproach that 
monarchy with ? It is true that' the Abbé Pucelle was 
sent to his Abbey of Portigny with as much time as he 
pleased for the journey ; and as for your Monsieur 
Titon, who had been, begging your pardon, a terrible 
debauchee, and had gone the rounds of the loose women 
before hunting after the miracles of the Deacon Paris, 
he was transferred from the Castle of Vincennes to the 
Castle of Ham in Picardy, which is, I confess, a suffi- 
ciently ugly place. There are wrongs for you ! I recol- 
lect : I cried out also in my day ; I was as stupid as 
you. " 

The marquis felt in his pocket as if seeking his snuff- 
box, then continued : " But not so wicked. We talked 
just for talk's sake. There was also the mutiny of de- 
mands and petitions ; and then up came those gentle- 
men the philosophers, and their writings were burned 
instead of the authors. The Court cabals mixed them- 
selves in the matter ; there were all those stupid fellows. 
Turgot, Quesnay, Malesherbes, the physiocratists, and 
so forth, — and the quarrel began. The whole came from 
the scribblers and the rhymesters. The Encyclopedia ; 
Diderot, D'Alembert, ■ — ah, the wicked scoundrels ! To 
think of a well-born man like the King of Prussia join- 
ing them! I would have suppressed all those paper- 
scratchers. Ah, we were justiciaries, our family ; you 
may see there on the wall the marks of the quartering- 
wheel. We did not jest. No, no; no scribblers! 
While there are Arouets, there will be Marats ; as long 


as there are fellows who scribble, there will be scoun- 
drels who assassinate ; as long as there is ink, there will 
be black stains; as long as men's claws hold a goose's 
feather, frivolous stupidities will engender atrocious 
ones. Books cause crimes. The word ' chimera ' has 
two meanings, — it signifies dream, and it signifies 
monster. How dearly one pays for idle trash ! What 
is that you sing to us about your rights ? The rights 
of man ! rights of the people ! — is that empty enough, 
stupid enough, visionary enough, sufficiently void of 
sense ? When I say Havoise, the sister of Conan II. , 
brought the county of Brittany to Hoel Count of Nantes 
and Cornouailles, who left the throne to Alain Fergant 
the uncle of Bertha, who espoused Alain-le-noir Lord 
of Koche-sur-Yon, and bore him Conan the Little, grand- 
father of Guy, or Gauvain de Thouars, our ancestor, — I 
state a thing that is clear, and there is a right. But 
your scoundrels, your rascals, your wretches, what do 
they call their rights ? Deicide and regicide ! Is it not 
hideous ? Oh, the clowns ! I am sorry for you, sir, 
but you belong to this proud Brittany blood ; you and I 
had Gauvain de Thouars for our ancestor; we had for 
another that great Duke of Montbazon who was peer of 
France and honoured with the Grand Collar of the 
Orders, who attacked the suburb of Tours, and was 
wounded at the Battle of Arques, and died Grand 
Huntsman of France, in his house of Couzières in Tou- 
raine, aged eighty-six. I could tell you still further of 
the Duke de Laudunois, son of the Lady of Garnache ; 
of Claude de Lorraine, Duke de Chevreuse and of Henri 
de Lenoncourt, and of Françoise de Laval-Boisdauphin, 
— but to what purpose ? Monsieur has the honour of 
being an idiot, and considers himself the equal of my 
groom. Learn this : I was an old man while you were 
still a brat ; I remain as much vour superior as I was 


then. As you grew up you found means to belittle 
yourself. Since we ceased to see each other each has 
gone his own way : I followed honesty, you went in the 
opposite direction. Ah, I do not know how all that 
will finish those gentlemen, your friends, are full-blown 
wretches ! Verily, it is fine, I grant you, a marvellous 
step gained in the cause of progress, — to have sup- 
pressed in the army the punishment of the pint of water 
inflicted on the drunken soldier for three consecutive 
days ; to have the Maximum, the Convention, the 
Bishop Gobel, Monsieur Chaumette, and Monsieur 
Hébert ; to have exterminated the Past in one mass from 
the Bastille to the peerage ! They replace the saints by 
vegetables ! So be it, citizens ! you are masters ; reign, 
take your ease, do what you like, stop at nothing ! All 
this does not hinder the fact that religion is religion, 
that royalty fills fifteen hundred years of our history, 
and that the old French nobility are loftier than you, 
even with their heads off. As for your cavilling over the 
historic rights of royal races, we shrug our shoulders at 
that. Chilperic, in reality, was only a monk named 
Daniel; it was Eainfroi who invented Chilperic, in 
order to annoy Charles Martel : we know those things 
just as well as yov do. The question does not lie there ; 
the question is this : To be a great kingdom, to be the 
ancient France, to be a country perfectly ordered, wherein 
were to be considered, first, the sacred person of its 
monarchs, absolute lords of the State ; then the princes ; 
then the officers of the crown for the armies on land and 
sea, for the artillery, for the direction and superinten- 
dence of the finances ; after that the officers of justice, 
great and small, those for the management of taxes and 
general receipts ; and, lastly, the police of the kingdom 
in its three orders. All this was fine and nobly regu- 
lated ; you have destroyed it. You have destroyed the 


provinces, like the lamentably ignorant creatures you 
are, without even suspecting what the provinces really 
were. The genius of France held the genius of the en- 
tire continent; each province of France represented a 
virtue of Europe : the frankness of Germany was in 
Picardy ; the generosity of Sweden, in Champagne ; the 
industry of Holland, in Burgundy ; the activity of 
Poland, in Languedoc; the gravity of Spain, in Gas- 
cony ; the wisdom of Italy, in Provence ; the subtlety of 
Greece, in Normandy ; the fidelity of Switzerland, in 
Dauphiny. You knew nothing of all that; you have 
broken, shattered, ruined, demolished ; you have shown 
yourselves simply idiotic brutes. Ah, you will no 
longer have nobles ? Well, you shall have none ! Get 
your mourning ready : you shall have no more paladins, 
no more heroes ; say good-night to the ancient gran- 
deurs ; find me a D'Assas at present!. You are all of 
you afraid for your skins. You will have no more the 
chivalry of Fontenoy, who saluted before killing one 
another; you will have no more combatants like those 
in silk stockings at the siege of Lérida ; you will have 
no more plumes floating past like meteors : you are a 
people finished, come to an end. You will suffer the 
outrage of invasion. If Alaric II. could return, he 
would no longer find himself confronted by Clovis ; if 
Abderaman could come back, he would no longer 
find himself face to face with Charles Martel; if the 
Saxons, they would no longer find Pepin before them. 
You will have no more Agnadel, Eocroy, Lens, Staffarde, 
Neerwinden, Steinkirke, La Marsaille, Eancoux, Law- 
feld, Mahon ; you will have no Marignan, with Francis 
I. ; you will have no Bouvines, with Philip Augustus 
taking prisoner with one hand Eenaud Count of Bou- 
logne, and with the other, Ferrand Count of Flanders ; 
you will have Agincourt, but you vv ill have no more the 


Sieur de Bacqueville, grand bearer of the oriflammei 
enveloping himself in his banner to die. Go on, go on ; 
do your work ! Be the new men ! become dwarfs ! " 

The marquis was silent for an instant, then began 
again : " But leave us great. Kill the kings, kill the 
nobles, kill the priests ; tear down, ruin, massacre ; 
trample under foot, crush ancient laws beneath your 
heels ; overthrow the throne ; stamp upon the altar of 
God, dash it in pieces, dance above it ! On with you 
to the end ! You are traitors and cowards, incapable of 
devotion or sacrifice. I have spoken ; now have me 
guillotined, monsieur the viscount. I have the honour 
to be your very humble servant. " 

Then he added : " Ah, I do not hesitate to set the 
truth plainly before you. What difference can it make 
to me ? I am dead. " 

" You are free, " said Gauvain. He unfastened his 
commandant's cloak, advanced toward the marquis, threw 
it about his shoulders, and drew the hood close down 
over his eyes. The two men were of the same height. 

" Well, what are you doing ? " the marquis asked. 

Gauvain raised his voice, and cried : " Lieutenant, 
open to me. " 

The door opened. 

Gauvain exclaimed : " Close the door carefully behind 
me ! " And he pushed the stupefied marquis across the 

The hall turned into a guard-room was lighted, it 
will be remembered, by a horn lantern, whose faint 
rays only broke the shadows here and there. Such of 
the soldiers as were not asleep saw dimly a man of lofty 
stature, wrapped in the mantle and hood of the com- 
mander-in-chief, pass through the midst of them and 
move toward the entrance. They made a military sa- 
lute, and the man passed on. 


The marquis slowly traversed the guard-room, the 
breach (not without hitting his head more than once), 
and went out. The sentinel, believing that he saw Gau- 
vain, presented arms. When he was outside, having the 
grass of the fields under his feet, within two hundred 
paces of the forest, and before him space, night, liberty, 
life, — he paused, and stood motionless for an instant 
like a man who has allowed himself to be pushed on ; 
who has yielded to surprise, and who, having taken ad- 
vantage of an open door, asks himself if he has done well 
or ill, hesitates to go farther, and gives audience to a last 
reflection. After a few seconds' deep reverie he raised 
his right hand, snapped his thumb and middle finger, 
and said, " My faith ! " And he hurried on 

The door of the dungeon had closed again. Gauvain 
was within. 



AT that period all courts -martial were very nearly 
discretionary. Dumas had offered in the Assem- 
bly a rough plan of military legislation, improved later 
by Talot in the Council of the Five Hundred ; but the 
definitive code of war-councils was only drawn up un- 
der the Empire. Let us add in parenthesis, that from 
the Empire dates the law imposed on military tribunals 
to begin receiving the votes by the lowest grade. Under 
the Eevolution this law did not exist. In 1793 the 
president of a military tribunal was almost the tribunal 
in himself. He chose the members, classed the order 
of grades, regulated the manner of voting, — was at once 
master and judge. 

Cimourdain had selected for the hall of the court- 
martial that very room on the ground-floor where the 
retirade had been erected, and where the guard was now 
established. He wished to shorten everything, — the 
road from the prison to the tribunal, and the passage 
from the tribunal to the scaffold. 

In conformity with his orders the court began its sit- 
ting at midday, with no other show of state than this : 
three straw-bottomed chairs, a pine table, two lighted 
candles, a stool in front of the table. The chairs were 
for the judges, and the stool for the accused. At either 
end of the table also stood a stool, — one for the com- 


missioner auditor, who was a quartermaster; the other 
for the registrar, who was a corporal. On the table were 
a stick of red sealing-wax, a brass seal of the Eepublic, 
two ink-stands, some sheets of white paper, and two 
printed placards spread open, — the first containing the 
declaration of outlawry ; the second, the decree of the 
CoDvention. The tricoloured flag hung on the back of the 
middle chair : in that period of rude simplicity decora- 
tions were quickly arranged, and it needed little time 
to change a guard-room into a court of justice. The 
middle chair, intended for the president, stood in face 
of the prison door. The soldiers made up the audience. 
Two gendarmes stood on guard by the stool. 

Cimourdain was seated in the centre chair, having at 
his right Captain Guéchamp, first judge ; and at his left 
Sergeant Radoub, second judge. Cimourdain wore a hat 
with a tricoloured cockade, his sabre at his side, and 
his» two pistols in his belt ; his scar, of a vivid red, 
added to his savage appearance. Radoub 's wound had 
been only partially stanched ; he had a handkerchief 
knotted about his head, upon which a bloodstain slowly 

At midday the court had not yet opened its proceed- 
ings. A messenger, whose horse could be heard stamp- 
ing outside, stood , near the table of the tribunal. 
Cimourdain was writing, — writing these lines : — 

" Citizen Members of the Committee of Public 
Safety, — Lantenac is taken. He will be executed to- 

He dated and signed the dispatch ; folded, sealed, and 
handed it to the messenger, who departed. This done, 
Cimourdain called in a loud voice : " Open the dungeon ! " 

The two gendarmes drew back the bolts, opened the 
door of the dungeon, and entered. 


Cimourdain lifted his head, folded his arms, fixed his 
eyes on the door and cried : " Bring out the prisoner ! " 

A man appeared between the two gendarmes, standing 
beneath the arch of the door-way. It was Gauvain. 

Cimourdain started. " Gauvain ! " he exclaimed. Then 
he added, " I demand the prisoner. " 

" It is I, " said Gauvain. 

« Thou ? " 

« T » 

" And Lantenac ? " 
" He is free. " 

■ Free ? " 
" Yes. " 

" Escaped ? * 

" Escaped. " 

Cimourdain trembled as he stammered : " In truth the 
castle belongs to him ; he knows all its outlets. The 
dungeon may communicate with some secret opening. 
I ought to have remembered that he would find means 
to escape ; he would not need any person's aid for that. " 

" He was aided, " said Gauvain. 

" To escape ? " 

" To escape. " 

"Who aided him?* 

« T » 

■ Thou ? " 
" I. " 

" Thou art dreaming ! " 

" I went into the dungeon ; I was alone with the pris- 
oner. I took off my cloak ; I put it about his shoulders ; 
I drew the hood down over his face ; he went out in my 
stead, and I remained in his. Here I am ! " 

" Thou didst not do it!" 

" I did it. " 

" It is impossible ! " 


* It is true. 

" Bring me Lantenac ! " 

" He is no longer here. The soldiers, seeing the com- 
mandant's mantle, took him for me, and allowed him to 
pass. It was still night. " 

" Thou art mad ! " 

" I tell you what was done. " 

A silence followed. Cimourdain stammered : " Then 
thou hast merited — " 

" Death, " said Gauvain. 

Cimourdain was pale as a corpse. He sat motionless 
as a man who had just been struck by lightning. He 
no longer seemed to breathe. A great drop of sweat 
stood out on his forehead. He forced his voice into 
firmness, and said : " Gendarmes, seat the accused. " 

Gauvain placed himself on the stool. 

Cimourdain added : " Gendarmes, draw your sabres. * 
His voice had got back its ordinary tone. " Accused, " 
said he, " you will stand up. " He no longer said "thee * 
and " thou " to Gauvain. 



GAUVAIN rose. 
" What is your name ? " demanded Cimourdain. 

The answer came unhesitatingly : " Gauvain." 

Cimourdain continued the interrogatory : " Who are 

"I am Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary 
Column of the Cotes-du-Nord." 

"Are you a relative or a connection of the man who 
has escaped?" 

" I am his grand-nephew ? " 

"You are acquainted with the decree of the 
Convention ? " 

" I see the placard lying on your table." 

" What have you to say in regard to this decree ? " 

" That I countersigned it ; that I ordered its carrying 
out ; that it was I who had this placard written, at the 
bottom of which is my name." 

" Choose a defender." 

" I will defend myself." 

" You can speak." 

Cimourdain had become again impassible. But his 
impassibility resembled the sternness of a rock rather 
than the calmness of a man. 

Gauvain remained silent for a moment, as if collecting 
his thoughts. 

Cimourdain spoke again: "What have you to say in 
your defence 2" 


Gauvain slowly raised his head, but without fixing 
his eyes upon either of the judges, and replied : " This : 
One thing prevented my seeing another ; a good action 
seen too near hid from me a hundred criminal deeds. 
On one side an old man ; on the other, three children, — 
all these put themselves between me and duty. I forgot 
the burned villages, the ravaged fields, the butchered 
prisoners, the slaughtered wounded, the women shot ; 1 
forgot France betrayed to England. I set at liberty the 
murderer of our country ; I am guilty. In speaking 
thus, I seem to speak against myself ; it is a mistake, 
— I speak in my own behalf. When the guilty ac- 
knowledges his fault, he saves the only thing worth the 
trouble of saving, — honour. " 

" Is that, " returned Cimourdain, " all you have to say 
in your own defence ? " 

" I add, that being the chief I owed an example ; and 
that you in your turn, being judges, owe one " 

" What example do you demand ? " 

" My death. " 

" You find that just ? " 

" And necessary. " 

" Be seated. " 

The quartermaster, who was auditor-commissioner, 
rose and read, first, the decree of outlawry against the 
ci-devant Marquis de Lantenac ; secondly, the decree of 
the Convention ordaining capital punishment against 
whosoever should aid the escape of a rebel prisoner. He 
closed with the lines printed at the bottom of the 
placard, forbidding " to give aid or succour to the be- 
low named rebel, under penalty of death; signed 
" Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Column, — 
Gauvain. " These notices read, the auditor-commis- 
sioner sat down again. 

Cimourdain folded his arms and said : " Accused, pa^ 
vol. xvnj, — 7 


attention. Public, listen, look, and be silent. Yon 
have before you the law. The votes will now be taken. 
The sentence will be given according to the major- 
ity. Each judge will announce his decision aloud, 
in presence of the accused, justice having nothing to 
conceal. " 

Cimourdain continued: "The first judge will give 
his vote. Speak, Captain Guéchamp. " 

Captain Guéchamp seemed to see neither Cimourdain 
nor Gauvain. His downcast lids concealed his eyes, 
which remained fixed upon the placard of the decree as 
if they were staring at a gulf. He said : " The law is 
immutable. A judge is more and less than a man : he is 
less than a man because he has no heart; he is more 
than a man because he holds the sword of justice. In 
the four hundred and fourteenth year of Eome, Manlius 
put his son to death for the crime of having conquered 
without his orders; violated discipline demanded an 
example. Here it is the law which has been violated, 
and the law is still higher than discipline. Through 
an emotion of pity, the country is again endangered. 
Pity may wear the proportions of a crime. Comman- 
dant Gauvain has helped the rebel Lantenac to escape. 
Gauvain is guilty. I vote — death. " 

" Write, registrar, " said Cimourdain. 

The clerk wrote, " Captain Guéchamp : death. " 

Gauvain 's voice rang out, clear and firm. " Gué- 
champ, " said he, " you have voted well, and I thank 
you. " 

Cimourdain resumed : " It is the turn of the second 
judge. Speak, Sergeant Radoub. " 

Radoub rose, turned toward Gauvain, and made the 
accused a military salute. Then he exclaimed : " If that 
is the way it goes, then guillotine me , for I give here, 
before God. mv most sacred word of honour that I would 


ike to have done, first, what the old man did, and, after 
that, what my commandant did. When I saw that old 
fellow, eighty years of age, jump into the fire to pull 
three brats out of it, I said ' Old fellow, you are a brave 
man ! ' And when I hear that my commandant has 
saved that old man from your beast of a guillotine, I 
say, * My commandant, you ought to be my general, and 
you are a true man ; and, as for me, thunder ! I would 
give you the Cross of Saint Louis if there were still 
crosses, or saints, or Louises. ' Oh, there ! are we going 
to turn idiots at present? If it was for these things 
that we gained the Battle of Jemmapes, the Battle of 
Valmy, the Battle of Fleurus, and the Battle of Wattig- 
nies, then you had better say so. What ! here is Com- 
mandant Gauvain, who for these four months past has 
been driving those asses of royalists to the beat of the 
drum, and saving the Bepublic by his sword ; who did a 
thing at Dol which needed a world of brains to do, — 
and when you have a man like that, you try to get rid of 
him ! Instead of electing him your general, you want to 
cut off his head ! I say it is enough to make a fellow 
throw himself off the Pont Neuf head foremost ! You, 
yourself, Citizen Gauvain, my commandant, if you were 
my corporal instead of being my superior, I would tell 
you that you talked a heap of infernal nonsense just now. 
The old man did a fine thing in saving the children ; 
you did a fine thing in saving the old man ; and if we 
are going to guillotine people for good actions, why, then, 
get away with you all to the devil, for I don't know 
any longer what the question is about! There 's nothing 
to hold fast to ! It is not true, is it, all this ? I pinch 
myself to see if I am awake! I can't understand. So 
the old man ought to have let the babies burn alive, and 
my commandant ought to have let the old man's head 
be cut off! See here! guillotine me! I would as lief 


have it done as not. Just suppose : if the children had 
been killed, the battalion of the Bonnet Eouge would 
have been dishonoured ! Is that what was wished for ? 
Why, then, let us eat one another up and be done ! I 
understand politics as well as any of you : I belonged to 
the Club of the Section of Pikes. Zounds, we are com- 
ing to the end ! I sum up the matter according to my 
way of looking at it. I don't like things to be done 
which are so puzzling you don't know any longer where 
you stand. What the devil is it we get ourselves killed 
for ? In order that somebody may kill our chief ! None 
of that, Lisette ! I want my chief ; I will have my 
chief; I love him better to-day than I did yesterday. 
Send him to the guillotine ? Why, you make me laugh ! 
Now, we are not going to have anything of that sort. I 
have listened. People may say what they please. In 
the first place it is not possible ! " 

And Eadoub sat down again. His wound had re- 
opened. A thin stream of blood exuded from under the 
kerchief, and ran along his neck from the place where 
his ear had been. 

Cimourdain turned toward the sergeant. " You vote 
for the acquittal of the accused ? " 

" I vote, " said Eadoub, " that he be made general. " 
" I ask if you vote for his acquittal. " 
" I vote for his being made head of the Eepublic. 9 
" Sergeant Eadoub, do you vote that Commandant 
Gauvain be acquitted, — yes or no ? " 

" I vote that my head be cut off in place of his. " 
" Acquittal, " said Cimourdain. " Write it, registrar. " 
The clerk wrote, " Sergeant Eadoub : acquittal. " 
Then the clerk said : " One voice for death. One voice 
for acquittal. A tie. " 

It was Cimourdain 's turn to vote. He rose. He took 
off his hat and laid it on the table. He was no longer 


pale or livid. His face was the colour of clay. Had all 
the spectators been corpses lying there in their winding- 
sheets, the silence could not have been more profound. 

Cimourdain said, in a solemn, slow, firm voice: 
* Accused, the case has been heard. In the name of the 
Eepublic, the court-martial, by a majority of two; 
voices — " 

He broke off; there was an instant of terrible sus- 
pense. Did he hesitate before pronouncing the sen- 
tence of death ? Did he hesitate before granting life ? 
Every listener held his breath. 

Cimourdain continued : " Condemns you to death. " 

His face expressed the torture of an awful triumph. 
Jacob, when he forced the angel, whom he had over- 
thrown in the darkness, to bless him, must have worn 
that fearful smile. It was only a gleam — it passed ; 
Cimourdain was marble again. He seated himself, put 
on his hat, and added : " Gauvain, you will be executed 
to-morrow at sunrise. " 

Gauvain rose, saluted, and said : " I thank the court. " 

" Lead away the condemned, " said Cimourdain. He 
made a sign : the door of the dungeon re-opened ; Gau- 
vain entered ; the door closed. The two gendarmes stood 
sentinel, — one on either side of the arch, sabre in hand. 

Sergeant Eadoub fell senseless upon the ground, and 
was carried away. 



A CAMP is a wasp's nest, — in revolutionary times 
above all. The civic sting which is in the sol- 
dier moves quickly, and does not hesitate to prick the 
chief after having chased away the enemy. 

The valiant troop which had taken La Tourgue was 
filled with diverse commotions, — at first against Com- 
mandant Gauvain when it learned that Lantenac had 
escaped. As G-auvain issued from the dungeon which 
had been believed to hold the marquis, the news spread 
as if by electricity, and in an instant the whole army 
was informed. A murmur burst forth ; it was : * They 
are trying Gauvain ; but it is a sham. Trust ci-devants 
and priests ! We have just seen a viscount save a mar- 
quis, and now we are going to see a priest absolve a 
noble Î " 

When the news of Gauvain 's condemnation came, 
there was a second murmur : " It is horrible ! Our chief, 
our brave chief, our young commander, — a hero ! He 
may be a viscount, — very well ; so much the more merit 
in his being a Eepublican. What, he, the liberator of 
Pontorson, of Villedieu, of Pont-au-Beau; the conqueror 
of Dol and La Tourgue, — he who makes us invincible; 
he, the sword of the Eepublic in Vendée ; the man who 
for five months has held the Chouans at bay, and re- 
paired all the blunders of Léchelle and the others ! — • 


this Cimourdain to dare to condemn him to death Î For 
what ? Because he saved an old man who had saved 
three children ! A priest kill a soldier ! " 

Thus muttered the victorious and discontented camp. 
A stern rage surrounded Cimourdain. Four thousand 
men against one, — that should seem a power ; it is not. 
These four thousand men were a crowd ; Cimourdain 
was a will. It was known that Cimourdain 's frown 
came easily, and nothing more was needed to hold the 
army in respect. In those stern days it was sufficient 
for a man to have behind him the shadow of the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety to make that man formidable ; 
to make imprecation die into a whisper, and the whisper 
into silence. 

Before, as after the murmurs, Cimourdain remained 
the arbiter of Gauvain's fate as he did of the fate of all. 
They knew there was nothing to ask of him, that he 
would only obey his conscience, — ■ a superhuman voice 
audible to his ear alone. Everything depended upon 
him. That which he had done as martial judge, he could 
undo as civil delegate. He only could show mercy. 
He possessed unlimited power : by a sign he could set 
Gauvain at liberty. He was master of life and death; 
he commanded the guillotine. In this tragic moment 
he was the man supreme. They could only wait. 

Night came. 



THE hall of justice had become again a guard-room ; 
the guard was doubled as upon the previous even- 
ing ; two sentinels stood on duty before the closed door 
of the prison. 

Toward midnight, a man who held a lantern in his 
hand traversed the hall, made himself known to the 
sentries, and ordered the dungeon open. It was Cimour- 
dain. He entered and the door remained ajar behind 
him. The dungeon was dark and silent. Cimourdain 
moved forward a step in the gloom, set the lantern on 
the ground, and stood still. He could hear amidst 
the shadows the measured breath of a sleeping man. 
Cimourdain listened thoughtfully to this peaceful sound. 

Gauvain lay on a bundle of straw at the farther end 
of the dungeon. It was his breathing which caught the 
new comer's ear. He was sleeping profoundly. 

Cimourdain advanced as noiselessly as possible, moved 
close, and looked down upon Gauvain. The glance of a 
mother watching her nursling's slumber could not have 
been more tender or fuller of love. Even Cimourdain's 
will could not control that glance. He pressed his 
clinched hands against his eyes with the gesture one 
sometimes sees in children, and remained for a moment 
motionless. Then he knelt, softly raised Gauvain 's 
hand, and pressed it to his lips. 


Gauvain stirred. He opened his eyes, full of the 
wonder of sudden waking. He recognized Cimourdain 
in the dim light which the lantern cast about the cave. 
" Ah, " said he, " it is you, my master. " And he added : 
" I dreamed that Death was kissing my hand. " 

Cimourdain started as one does sometimes under the 
sudden rush of a flood of thoughts. Sometimes the tide 
is so high and so stormy that it seems as if it would 
drown the soul. Not an echo from the overcharged 
depths of Cimourdain' s heart found vent in words. He 
could only say, " Gauvain ! " 

And the two gazed at each other, — Cimourdain with 
his eyes full of those flames which burn up tears ; Gau- 
vain with his sweetest smile. 

Gauvain raised himself on his elbow and said : " That 
scar I see on your face is the sabre-cut you received for 
me. Yesterday, too, you were in the thick of that 
mêlée, at my side, and on my account. If Providence 
had not placed you near my cradle, where should I be 
to-day ? In utter darkness. If I have any true concep- 
tion of duty, it is from you that it comes to me. I was 
born with my hands bound, — prejudices are ligatures : 
you loosened those bonds ; you gave my growth liberty, 
and of that which was already only a mummy you made 
anew a child. Into what would have been an abortion you 
put a conscience. Without you I should have grown up 
a dwarf. I exist by you. I was only a lord, you made me 
a citizen ; I was only a citizen, you have made me a mind. 
You have made me, as a man, fit for this earthly life ; 
you have educated my soul for the celestial existence ; 
you have given me human reality,' the key of truth, and, 
to go beyond that, the key of light. O my master! I 
thank you. It is you who have created me. " 

Cimourdain seated himself on the straw beside Gau- 
vain, and said : " I have come to sup with thee. n 


Gauvain broke the black bread and handed it to him. 
Cimourdain took a morsel ; then Gauvain offered the jug 
of water. 

" Drink first, " said Cimourdain. 

Gauvain drank, and passed the jug to his companion, 
who drank after him. Gauvain had only swallowed a 
mouthful. Cimourdain drank great draughts. During 
this supper, Gauvain ate, and Cimourdain drank, — a 
sign of the calmness of the one, and of the fever which 
consumed the other. A serenity so strange that it was ter- 
rible reigned in this dungeon. The two men conversed. 

Gauvain said : " Grand events are sketching them- 
selves. What the Eevolution does at this moment is 
mysterious. Behind the visible work stands the invisi- 
ble ; one conceals the other, the visible work is savage, 
the invisible sublime. In this instant I perceive all 
very clearly. It is strange and beautiful. It has been 
necessary to make use of the materials of the Past. 
Hence this marvellous '93. Beneath a scaffolding of 
barbarism a temple of civilization is building. " 

" Yes, " replied Cimourdain. " From this provisional 
will rise the definitive, The definitive — that is to say, 
right and duty — are parallel : taxes proportional and pro- 
gressive ; military service obligatory ; a levelling without 
deviation : and above the whole, making part of all, that 
straight line, the law, — the Eepublic of the absolute. " 

" I prefer, " said Gauvain, " the ideal Eepublic. " He 
paused for an instant, then continued : " my master ! 
in all which you have just said, where do you place de- 
votion, sacrifice, abnegation, the sweet interlacing of 
kindnesses, love ? To set all in equilibrium, it is well ; 
to put all in harmony, it is better. Above the Balance 
is the Lyre. Your Eepublic*weighs, measures, regulates 
man ; mine lifts him into the open sky. It is the differ- 
ence between a theorem and an eagle. " 


* You lose yourself in the clouds. * 

" And you in calculation. " 

" Harmony is full of dreams. " 

" There are such, too, in algebra. n 

" I would have man made by the rules of Euclid. " 

" And I, " said Gauvain, " would like him better as 
pictured by Homer. " 

Cimourdain's severe smile remained fixed upon Gau- 
vain, as if to hold that soul steady : " Poesy ! Mistrust 
poets. " 

" Yes, I know that saying. Mistrust the zephyrs, 
mistrust the sunshine, mistrust the sweet odours of 
spring, mistrust the flowers, mistrust the stars I " 

" None of these things can feed man. " 

" How do you know ? Thought is nourishment. To 
think is to eat. " 

" No abstractions ! The Republic is the law of two 
and two make four. When I have given to each the 
share which belongs to him — " 

" It still remains to give the share which does not be- 
long to him. " 

" What do you understand by that ? " 

" I understand the immense reciprocal concession, 
which each owes to all, and which all owe to each, and 
which is the whole of social life. " 

" Beyond the strict law there is nothing, " 

" There is everything. " 

" I only see justice. " 

« And I, — I look higher.» 

" What can there be above justice ? " 

" Equity. " 

At certain instants they paused as if lightning flashes 
suddenly chilled them. 

Cimourdain resumed : " Particularize ; I defy you. n 

K So be it. You wish military service made obliga- 


tory. Against whom. Against other men. I, — Ï would 
have no military service ; I want peace. You wish the 
wretched succoured ; I wish an end put to suffering. You 
want proportional taxes; I wish no tax whatever. I 
wish the general expense reduced to its most simple 
expression, and paid by the social surplus. " 

" What do you understand by that ? " 

" This : First, suppose parasitisms, — the parasitisms 
of the priest, the judge, the soldier. After that, turn 
your riches to account. You fling manure into the 
sewer ; cast it into the furrow. Three parts of the soil 
are waste land : clear up France ; suppress useless pas- 
ture-grounds ; divide the communal lands ; let each man 
have a farm and each farm a man. You will increase a 
hundred-fold the social product. At this moment France 
only gives her peasants meat four days in the year ; well 
cultivated, she would nourish three hundred millions of 
men — all Europe. Utilize Nature, that immense aux- 
iliary so disdained ; make every wind toil for you, every 
water-fall, every magnetic effluence. The globe has a 
subterranean net-work of veins ; there is in this net- 
work a prodigious circulation of water, oil, fire. Pierce 
those veins : make this water feed your fountains, this 
oil your lamps, this fire your hearths. Reflect upon the 
movements of the waves, their flux and reflux, the ebb 
and flow of the tides. What is the ocean ? An enor- 
mous power allowed to waste. How stupid is earth 
not to make use of the sea I " 

" There you are in the full tide of dreams. " 

" That is to say, of full reality. " 

Gauvain added : " And woman, what will you do with 
her ? " 

Cimourdain replied : " Leave her where she is, — the 
servant of man. " 

* Yes. On one condition. * 



* That man shall be the servant of woman. n 

* Can you think of it ? " cried Cimourdain. " Man a 
servant? Never! Man is master. I admit only one 
royalty, —that of the. fireside. Man in his house is 
king ! " 

" Yes. On one condition. " 


" That woman shall be queen there. * 

- That is to say, you wish for man and woman — * 


" Equality ! Can you dream of it ? The two creatures 
are different. " 

" I said equality; I did not say identity. " 

There was another pause, like a sort of truce between 
two spirits flinging lightnings. 

Cimourdain broke the silence : " And the offspring, 
to whom do you consign them ? " 

" First to the father who engenders ; then to the mother 
who gives birth ; then to the master who rears ; then to 
the city that civilizes ; then to the country which is the 
mother supreme; then to humanity, who is the great 
ancestor. " 

" You do not speak of God ? * 

" Each of those degrees — father, mother, master, city, 
country, humanity — is one of the rungs in the ladder 
which leads to God. " 

Cimourdain was silent. 

Gauvain continued : " When one is at the top of the 
ladder, one has reached God. Heaven opens, — one has 
only to enter. * 

Cimourdain made a gesture like a man calling another 
back : " Gauvain, return to earth. We wish to realize 
the possible. " 

■ Do not commence by rendering it impossible, " 


" The possible always realizes itself. n 

" Not always. If one treats Utopia harshly, one slays 
it. Nothing is more defenceless than the egg. " 

" Still, it is necessary to seize Utopia, to put the yoke 
of the real upon it, to frame it in the actual. The ab- 
stract idea must transform itself into the concrete : what 
it loses in beauty, it will gain in usefulness ; it is les- 
sened, but made better. Eight must enter into law, 
and when right makes itself law, it becomes absolute. 
That is what I call the possible. " 

" The possible is more than that. " 

" Ah, there you are in dream-land again Î * 

" The possible is a mysterious bird, always soaring 
above man's head." 

" It must be caught. " 

" Living. " Gauvain continued : " This is my thought : 
Constant progression. If God had meant man to retro- 
grade, he would have placed an eye in the back of his 
head. Let us look always toward the dawn, the blos- 
soming, the birth. That which falls encourages that which 
mounts ; the cracking of the old tree is an appeal to 
the new. Each century must do its work : to-day civic, 
to-morrow human ; to-day the question of right, to- 
morrow the question of salary. Salary and right, — the 
same word at bottom. Man does not live to be paid 
nothing. In giving life, God contracts a debt. Eight 
is the payment inborn ; payment is right acquired. " 

Gauvain spoke with the earnestness of a prophet. 
Cimourdain listened. Their rôles were changed; now it 
seemed the pupil who was master. 

Cimourdain murmured : " You go rapidly. " 

" Perhaps because I am a little pressed for time, " said 
Gauvain, smiling. And he added, " my master ! 
behold the difference between our two Utopias ! You 
wish the garrison obligatory, I the school. You dream 


of man the soldier ; I dream of man the citizen. You 
want him terrible ; I want him a thinker. You found 
a Republic upon swords ; I found — " 

He interrupted himself : " I would found a Eepublic 
of intellects. " 

Cimourdain bent his eyes on the pavement of the dun- 
geon, and said : " And while waiting for it, what would 
you have ? " 

u That which is. " 

u Then you absolve the present moment ? * 

* Yes. " 

" Wherefore ? " 

" Because it is a tempest. A tempest knows always 
what it does. For one oak uprooted, how many forests 
purified ! Civilization had the plague : this great wind 
cures it. Perhaps it is not so careful as it ought to be ; 
but could it do otherwise than it does ? It is charged 
with a difficult task. Before the horror of miasma, I 
comprehend the fury of the blast. " 

Gauvain continued : " Moreover, why should I fear the 
tempest if I have my compass ? How can events affect 
me if I have my conscience ? " And he added, in a low, 
solemn voice : " There is a power that must always be 
allowed to guide. " 

" What ? " demanded Cimourdain. 

Gauvain raised his finger above his head. Cimour- 
dain's eyes followed the direction of that uplifted finger, 
and it seemed to him that across the dungeon vault he 
beheld the starlit sky. Both were silent again. 

Cimourdain spoke first : u Society is greater than Na- 
ture. I tell you, this is no longer possibility — it is a 
dream. " 

" It is the goal. Otherwise of what use is society ? 
Remain in Nature ; be savages. Otaheite is a paradise, 
— only the inhabitants of that paradise do not think. 


An intelligent hell would be preferable to an imbruted 
heaven. But, no, — no hell ; let us be a human society, 
Greater than Nature ? Yes. If you add nothing to Na- 
ture, why go beyond her ? Content yourself with work, 
like the ant ; with honey, like the bee, — remain the 
working drudge instead of the queen intelligence. If 
you add to Nature, you necessarily become greater than 
she : to add is to augment ; to augment is to grow. So- 
ciety is Nature sublimated. I want all that is lacking 
to bee-hives, all that is lacking to ant-hills, — monu- 
ments, arts, poesy, heroes, genius. To bear eternal 
burdens is not the destiny of man. No, no, no! no 
more pariahs, no more slaves, no more convicts, no more 
damned ! I desire that each of the attributes of man 
should be a symbol of civilization and a patron of pro- 
gress ; I would place liberty before the spirit, equality 
before the heart, fraternity before the soul. No more 
yokes ! Man was made not to drag chains, but to soar 
on wings. No more of man reptile 1 I wish the trans- 
figuration of the larva into the winged creature ; I wish 
the worm of the earth to turn into a living flower and 
fly away. I wish — " 

He broke off. His eyes blazed. His lips moved. He 
ceased to speak. 

The door had remained open. Sounds from without 
penetrated into the dungeon. The distant peal of trum- 
pets could be heard, probably the reveille; then the 
butt-end of muskets striking the ground as the sentinels 
were relieved; then, quite near the tower, as well as 
one could judge, a noise like the moving of planks and 
beams, followed by muffled, intermittent echoes like the 
strokes of a hammer. 

Cimourdain grew pale as he listened. Gauvain heard 
nothing. His reverie became more and more profound. 
He seemed no longer to breathe, so lost was he in the 


vision that snone upon his soul. Now and then he 
started slightly. The morning which illuminated his 
eyes waxed grander. 

Some time passed thus. Then Cimourdain asked : 
" Of what are you thinking ? " 

" Of the future, " replied Gauvain. 

He sank back into his meditation. Cimourdain rose 
from the bed of straw where the two were sitting. 
Gauvain did not perceive it. Keeping his eyes fixed 
upon the dreamer, Cimourdain moved slowly backward 
toward the door and went out. The dungeon closed 




DAY broke along the horizon, — and with the day an 
object, strange, motionless, mysterious, which the 
birds of heaven did not recognize, appeared upon the 
plateau of La Tourgue and towered above the forest of 
Fougères. It had been placed there in the night; it 
seemed to have sprung up rather than to have been built. 
It lifted high against the horizon a profile of straight, 
hard lines, looking lik. a Hebrew letter, or one of those 
Egyptian hieroglyphics which made part of the alphabet 
of the ancient enigma. 

At tho first glance the idea which this object roused 
was its lack of keeping with the surroundings. It stood 
amidst the blossoming heath. One asked one's self for 
what purpose it could be useful ? Then the beholder 
felt a chill creep over him as he gazed. It was a sort of 
trestle, having four posts for feet; at one end of the 
trestle two tall joists upright and straight, and fastened 
together at the top by a cross-beam, raised and held 
suspended some triangular object which showed black 
against the blue sky of morning. At the other end of 
the staging was a ladder. Between the joists, and 
directly beneath the triangle, could be seen a sort of 
panel composed of two movable sections, which, fitting 
into each other, left a round hole about the size of a 
man's neck. The upper section of this panel slid in a 
groove, so that it could be hoisted or lowered at will ; 


for the time, the two crescents, which formed the circle 
when closed, were drawn apart. At the foot of the two 
posts supporting the triangle was a plank turning on 
hinges, looking like a see-saw. By the side of this 
plank was a long basket ; and between the two beams, 
in front and at the extremity of the trestle, was a square 
basket. The monster was painted red. The whole 
was made of wood except the triangle, — that was iron. 
One would have known the thing must have been con- 
structed by man, it was so ugly and evil looking ; at the 
same time it was so formidable that it might have been 
reared there by evil genii. This shapeless thing was 
the guillotine. 

In front of it, a few paces off, another monster rose 
out of the ravine : La Tourgue, — a monster of stone 
rising up to hold companionship with the monster 
of wood. For when man has touched wood or stone 
they no longer remain inanimate matter ; something of 
man's spirit seems to enter into them. An edifice is a 
dogma ; a machine, an idea. La Tourgue was that terri-, 
ble offspring of the Past called the Bastille in Paris, the 
Tower of London in England, the Spielberg in Germany, 
the Escurial in Spain, the Kremlin in Moscow, the Cas- 
tle of Saint Angelo in Komç. 

In La Tourgue were condensed fifteen hundred 
years (the Middle Age), vassalage, servitude, feudality; 
in the guillotine one year, — '93; and these twelve 
months made a counterpoise to those fifteen centuries. 
La Tourgue was Monarchy ; the guillotine was Eevolu- 
tion, — tragic confrontation! On one side the debtor, 
on the other the creditor. On one side the inextricable 
Gothic complication of serf, lord, slave, master, plebeian, 
nobility, the complex code ramifying into customs, 
judge and priest in coalition, shackles innumerable, 
fiscal impositions, excise laws, mortmain, taxes, ex- 


emptions, prerogatives, prejudices, fanaticisms, the royal 
privilege of bankruptcy, the sceptre, the throne, the 
regal will, the divine right; on the other, this simple 
thing, — a knife. On one side the noose ; on the other, 
the axe. 

La Tourgue had long stood alone in the midst of this 
wilderness. There she had frowned with her machico- 
lated casements, from whence had streamed boiling oil, 
blazing pitch, and melted lead ; her oubliettes paved 
with human skeletons, her torture-chamber, — the whole 
hideous tragedy with which she was filled. Eearing 
her funereal front above the forest, she had passed fifteen 
centuries of savage tranquillity amidst its shadows ; she 
had been the one power in this land, the one object of 
respect and fear ; she had reigned supreme, she had been 
the realization of barbarism ; and suddenly she saw rise 
before her and against her, something (more than some- 
thing) as terrible as herself, — the guillotine. 

Inanimate objects sometimes appear endowed with 
a strange power of sight. A statue notices, a tower 
watches, the face of an edifice contemplates. La Tourgue 
seemed to be studying the guillotine. She seemed to 
question herself concerning it. What was that object ? 
It looked as if it had sprung out of the earth. It was 
from there, in truth, that it had risen. The sinister 
tree had germinated in the fatal ground. Out of the soil 
watered by so much of human sweat, so many tears, so 
much blood ; out of the earth in which had been dug so 
many trenches, so many graves, so many caverns, so many 
ambuscades — out of this earth wherein had rolled the 
countless victims of countless tyrannies — out of this 
earth spread above so many abysses wherein had been 
buried so many crimes (terrible germs) had sprung in a 
destined day this unknown, this avenger, this ferocious 
sword-bearer, and '93 had said to the Old World, " Be- 


hold me ! " And the guillotine had the right to say to 
the donjon tower, " I am thy daughter. " 

And, at the same time, the tower — for those fatal 
objects possess a strange vitality — felt herself slain by 
this newly risen force. 

Before this formidable apparition La Tourgue seemed 
to shudder. One might have said that she was afraid. 
The monstrous mass of granite was majestic, but infa- 
mous ; that plank with its black triangle was worse. 
The all-powerful fallen trembled before the all-power- 
ful risen. Criminal history was studying judicial his- 
tory. The violence of by-gone days was comparing itself 
with the violence of the present; the ancient fortress, 
the ancient prison, the ancient seigneury where tortured 
victims had shrieked out their lives , that construction 
of war and murder, now useless, defenceless, violated, 
dismantled, uncrowned, a heap of stones with no more 
than a heap of ashes, hideous yet magnificent, dying, 
dizzy with the awful memories of all those by-gone cen- 
turies, watched the terrible living Present sweep up. 
Yesterday trembled before to-day , antique ferocity ac- 
knowledged and bowed its head before this fresh horror. 
The power which was sinking into nothingness opened 
eyes of fright upon this new-born terror; the phantom 
stared at the spectre. 

Nature is pitiless ; she never withdraws her flowers, 
her music, her fragrance, and her sunlight from before 
human cruelty or suffering. She overwhelms man by 
the contrast between divine beauty and social hideous- 
ness. She spares him nothing of her loveliness, neither 
wing of butterfly nor song of bird. In the midst of 
murder, vengeance, barbarism, he must feel himself 
watched by holy things ; he cannot escape the immense 
reproach of universal nature and the implacable serenity 
of the sky. The deformity of human laws is forced to 


exhibit itself naked amidst the dazzling rays of eternal 
beauty. Man breaks and destroys ; man lays waste ; 
man kills; but the summer remains summer; the lily 
remains the lily ; the star remains the star. 

Never had a morning dawned fresher and more glori- 
ous than this. A soft breeze stirred the heath, a warm 
haze rose amidst the branches ; the forest of Fougères 
permeated by the breath of hidden brooks, smoked in 
the dawn like a vast censer filled with perfumes ; the 
blue of the firmament, the whiteness of the clouds, the 
transparency of the streams, the verdure, that harmoni- 
ous gradation of colour from aqua-marine to emerald, the 
groups of friendly trees, the mats of grass, the peaceful 
fields, all breathed that purity which is Nature's eternal 
counsel to man. In the midst of all this rose the horri- 
ble front of human shamelessness ; in the midst of all 
this appeared the fortress and the scaffold, war and pun- 
ishment, — the incarnations of the bloody age and the 
bloody moment; the owl of the night of the Past and 
the bat of the cloud-darkened dawn of the Future. And 
blossoming, odour-giving creation, loving and charming, 
and the grand sky golden with morning spread about 
La Tourgue and the guillotine, and seemed to say to 
man, " Behold my work and yours. " 

Such are the terrible reproaches of the sunlight ! 

This spectacle had its spectators. The four thousand 
men of the little expeditionary army were drawn up 
in battle order upon the plateau. They surrounded the 
guillotine on three sides in such a manner as to form 
about it the shape of a letter E ; the battery placed in 
the centre of the largest line made the notch of the E. 
The red monster was enclosed by these three battle fronts ; 
a sort of wall of soldiers spread out on two sides to the 
edge of the plateau ; the fourth side, left open, was the 
ravine, which seemed to frown at La Tourgue. These 


arrangements made a long square, in the centre of which 
stood the scaffold. 

Gradually, as the sun mounted higher, the shadow ol 
the guillotine grew shorter on the turf. The gunners 
were at their pieces ; the matches lighted. A faint blue 
smoke rose from the ravine, the last breath of the expir- 
ing conflagration. This cloud encircled without veiling 
La Tourgue, whose lofty platform overlooked the whole 
horizon. There was only the width of the ravine be- 
tween the platform and the guillotine. The one could 
have parleyed with the other. 

The table of the tribunal and the chair shadowed by 
the tricoloured flags had been set upon the platform. 
The sun rose higher behind La Tourgue, bringing out 
the black mass of the fortress clear and defined, and re- 
vealing upon its summit the figure of a man in the chair 
beneath the banners, sitting motionless, his arms crossed 
upon his breast. It was Cimourdain. He wore, as on 
the previous day, his civil delegate's dress; on his head 
was the hat with the tricoloured cockade ; his sabre at 
his side ; his pistols in his belt. He sat silent. 

The whole crowd was mute. The soldiers stood with 
downcast eyes, musket in hand, — stood so close that 
their shoulders touched ; but no one spoke. They were 
meditating confusedly upon this war, — the numberless 
combats, the hedge-fusilades so bravely confronted ; the 
hosts of peasants driven back by their might ; the cita- 
dels taken, the battles won, the victories gained ; and it 
seemed to them as if all that glory had turned now to 
their shame. A sombre expectation contracted every 
heart. They could see the executioner come and go upon 
the platform of the guillotine. The increasing splen- 
dour of the morning filled the sky with its majesty. 

Suddenly the sound of muffled drums broke the still- 
ness. The furereal tones swept nearer. The ranks 


opened — a cortege entered the square and moved toward 
the scaffold. First, the drummers with their crape- 
wreathed drums ; then a company of grenadiers with 
reversed arms ; then a platoon of gendarmes with drawn 
sabres ; then the condemned, — Gauvain. He walked 
forward with a free, firm step. He had no fetters on 
hands or feet. He was in an undress uniform, and wore 
his sword. Behind him marched another platoon of 

Gauvain 's face was still lighted by that pensive joy 
which had illuminated it at the moment when he said 
to Cimourdain, " I am thinking of the Future. " Noth- 
ing could be more touching and sublime than that smile. 
When he reached the fatal square, his first glance was 
directed toward the summit of the tower. He disdained 
the guillotine. He knew that Cimourdain would make 
it an imperative duty to assist at the execution. His 
eyes sought the platform ; he saw him there. 

Cimourdain was ghastly and cold. Those standing 
near him could not catch even the sound of his breath- 
ing. Not a tremor shook his frame when he saw 

Gauvain moved toward the scaffold. As he walked 
on, he looked at Cimourdain, and Cimourdain looked at 
him. It seemed as if Cimourdain rested his very soul 
upon that clear glance. Gauvain reached the foot of the 
scaffold. He ascended it. The officer who commanded 
the grenadiers followed him. He unfastened his sword, 
and handed it to the officer; he undid his cravat, and 
gave it to the executioner. He looked like a vision. 
Never had he been so handsome. His brown curls 
rloated in the wind : at the time it was not the custom 
to cut off the hair of those about to be executed. His 
white neck reminded one of a woman; his heroic and 
sovereign glance made one think of an archangel. He 



stood there on the scaffold lost in thought. That place 
of punishment was a height too. Gauvain stood upon 
it, erect, proud, tranquil. The sunlight streamed about 
him till he seemed to stand in the midst of a halo. But 
he must be bound. The executioner advanced, cord in 

At this moment, when the soldiers saw their young 
leader so close to the knife, they could restrain them- 
selves no longer , the hearts of those stern warriors gave 
way, A mighty sound swelled up, — the united sob of a 
whole army. A clamour rose : " Mercy ! mercy ! " Some 
fell upon their knees ; others flung away their guns and 
stretched their arms toward the platform where Cimour- 
dain was seated. One grenadier pointed to the guillo- 
tine, and cried, " A substitute ! A substitute ! Take 
me ! " All repeated frantically, " Mercy ! mercy ! " Had 
a troop of lions heard, they must have been softened or 
terrified , the tears of soldiers are terrible. 

The executioner hesitated, no longer knowing what 
to do 

Then a voice, quick and low, but so stern that it was 
audible to every ear, spoke from the top of the tower : 
" Fulfil the law ! 

All recognized that inexorable tone. Cimourdain had 
spoken. The army shuddered. 

The executioner hesitated no longer. He approached, 
holding out the cord. 

" Wait ! " said Gauvain. He turned toward Cimour- 
dain, made a gesture of farewell with his right hand, 
which was still free, then allowed himself to be bound. 

When he was tied, he said to the executioner : " Par- 
don. One instant more. " And he cried : " Long live the 
Kepublic ! " 

He was laid upon the plank. That noble head was 
held by the infamous yoke. The executioner gently 


parted His hair aside, then touched the spring. The 
triangle began to move, — slowly at first, then rapidly; a 
terrible blow was heard — 

At the same instant another report sounded. A pistol 
shot had answered the blow of the axe. Cimourdain had 
seized one of the pistols from his belt, and as Gauvain's 
head rolled into the basket, Cimourdain sank back 
pierced to the heart by a bullet his own hand had fired, 
A stream of blood burst from his mouth ; he fell dead. 

And those two souls, united still in that tragic death, 
soared away together, the shadow of the one mingled with 
the radiance of the other. 





WHEN" it came to the turn of Captain Leopold 
d'Auverney, he gazed around him with surprise, 
and hurriedly assured his comrades that he did not 
remember any incident in his life that was worthy of 

"But, Captain d'Auverney," objected Lieutenant 
Henri, " you have — at least report says so — travelled 
much, and seen a good deal of the world ; have you not 
been to the Antilles, to Africa, and to Italy ? and above 
all, you have been in Spain. But see, here is your lame 
dog come back again ! " 

D'Auverney started, let fall the cigar that he was 
smoking, and turned quickly to the tent door, at which 
an enormous dog appeared, limping towards him. 

In another instant the dog was licking his feet, wagging 
his tail, whining, and gambolling as well as he was able ; 
and by every means testifying his delight at finding his 
master; and at last, as if he felt that he had done all 
that could be required of a dog, he curled himself up 
peaceably before his master's seat. 

Captain d'Auverney was much moved, but he strove 
to conceal his feelings, and mechanically caressed the 
dog with one hand, while with the other he played 
with the chin-strap of his shako, murmuring from time 


to time, " So here you are once again, Rask, here you 
are ! " Then, as if suddenly recollecting himself, he ex- 
claimed aloud, " But who has brought him back ? " 

" By your leave, Captain — " 

For the last few seconds Sergeant Thaddeus had been 
standing at the door of the tent, the curtain of which 
he was holding back with his left hand, while his right 
was thrust into the bosom of his great -coat. Tears were 
in his eyes as he contemplated the meeting of the 
dog and his master, and at last, unable to keep si- 
lence any longer, he risked the words, " By your leave, 
Captain. " 

D'Auverney raised his eyes. 

" Why, it is you, Thaddeus^? and how the deuce have 
you been able — eh ? Poor dog, poor Eask ! I thought 
that you were in the English camp. Where did you 
find him, Sergeant ? " 

" Thanks be to Heaven, Captain, you see me as happy 
as your little nephew used to be when you let him off 
his Latin lesson. " 

a But tell me, where did you find him? " 

" I did not find him, Captain ; I went to look for 

Captain d'Auverney rose, and offered his hand to the 
sergeant, but the latter still kept his in the bosom of 
his coat. 

" Well, you see, it was — at least, Captain, since poor 
Rask was lost, I noticed that you were like a man beside 
himself; so when I baw that he did not come to me in 
the evening, according to his custom, for his share of 
my ration bread, — which made old Thaddeus weep like 
a child ; I, who before that had only wept twice in my 
life, the first time when — yes, the day when — " and 
the sergeant cast a sad look upon his captain. K Well, 
thf^ second was when that scamp Balthazar, the corporal 


of the Seventh half brigade, persuaded me to peel a bunch 
of onions. " 

" It seems to me, Thaddeus, " cried Henri, with a 
laugh, " that you avoid telling us what was the first 
occasion upon which you shed tears. " 

" It was doubtless, old comrade, * said the captain 
kindly, as he patted Kask's head, " when you answered 
the roll-call as Tour d'Auvergne, the first grenadier of 
France. " 

" No, no, Captain ; if Sergeant Thaddeus wept, it was 
when he gave the order to fire on Bug-Jargal, otherwise 
called Pierrot. " 

A cloud gathered on the countenance of D'Auverney, 
then he again endeavoured to clasp the sergeant's hand ; 
but in spite of the honour that was attempted to be 
conferred on him, the old man still kept his hand hid- 
den under his coat. 

"Yes, Captain," continued Thaddeus, drawing , back a 
step or two, while D'Auverney fixed his eyes upon him 
with a strange and sorrowful expression, — " yes, I wept 
for him that day, and he well deserved it. He was 
black, it is true, but gunpowder is black also; and — 
and — " 

The good sergeant would fain have followed out his 
strange comparison, for there was evidently something 
in the idea that pleased him ; but he utterly failed to 
put his thoughts into words, and after having attacked 
his idea on every side, as a general would a fortified 
place, and failed, he raised the siege, and without notic- 
ing the smiles of his officers, he continued : — 

" Tell me, Captain, do you recollect how that poor 
negro arrived all out of breath, at the moment when 'his 
ten comrades were waiting on the spot ? We had had to 
tie them though. It was I who commanded the party ; 
and with his own hands ^e untied them, and took their 


place, although they did all that they could to dissuade 
him; but he was inflexible. Ah, what a man he was; 
you might as well have tried to move Gibraltar ! And 
then, Captain, he drew himself up as if he were going to 
enter a ball-room, and this dog, who knew well enough 
what was coming, flew at my throat — " 

" Generally, Thaddeus, at this point of your story 
you pat Eask, " interrupted the captain ; " see how he 
looks at you. " 

" You are right, sir, " replied Thaddeus, with an air 
of embarrassment ; " he does look at me, poor fellow ; but 
the old woman Malajuda told me it was unlucky to pat 
a dog with the left hand, and — " 

" And why not with your right, pray ? " asked 
D'Auverney, for the first time noticing the sergeant's 
pallor, and the hand reposing in his bosom. 

The sergeant's discomfort appeared to increase. " By 
your leave, Captain, it is because — well, you have got 
a lame dog, and now there is a chance of your having a 
one-handed sergeant. " 

" A one-handed sergeant 1 What do you mean? Let 
me see your arm. One hand ! Great heavens ! " 

D'Auverney trembled, as the sergeant slowly with- 
drew his hand from his bosom, and showed it enveloped 
in a blood-stained handkerchief. 

"This is terrible," exclaimed D'Auverney, carefully 
undoing the bandage. " But tell me, old comrade, how 
this happened. " 

" As for that, the thing is simple enough. I told you 
how I had noticed your grief since those confounded 
English had taken away your dog, — poor Eask, Bug's 
dog. I made up my mind to-day to bring him back, 
even if it cost me my life, so that you might eat a good 
supper. After having told Mathelet, your bât man, to 
get out and brush your full-dress uniform, as we are to 


go into action to-morrow, I crept quietly out of camp, 
armed only with my sabre, and crouched und.r tne 
hedges until I neared the English camp. I had not 
passed the first trench when I saw a whole crowd of red 
soldiers. I crept on quietly to see what they were do- 
ing, and in the midst oi them I perceived Eask tied to 
a tree ; while two of the milords, stripped to here, were 
knocking each other about with their fists, until their 
bones sounded like the big drum of the regiment. They 
were fighting for your dog. But when Eask caught 
sight of me, he gave such a bound that the rope broke, 
and in the twinkling of an eye the rogue was after me. 
I did not stop to explain, but off I ran, with all the 
English at my heels. A regular hail of balls whistled 
past my ears. Eask barked, but they could not hear 
him for their shouts of ' French dog ! French dog Î ' just 
as if Eask was not of the pure St. Domingo breed. In 
spite of all I crushed through the thicket, and had 
almost got clean away when two red coats confronted 
me, My sabre accounted for one, and would have rid 
me of the other had his pistol not unluckily had a bul- 
let in it. My right arm suffered ; but ' French dog ' 
leapt at his throat, as if he were an old acquaintance. 
Down fell the Englishman, for the embrace was so tight 
that he was strangled in a moment, — and here we both 
are. My only regret is that I did not get my wound in 
to-morrow's battle." 

" Thaddeus, Thaddeus ! " exclaimed the captain in 
tones of reproach ; " were you mad enough to expose 
your life thus for a dog? " 

* It was not for a dog, it was for Rask. " 

D'Auverney's face softened as Thaddeus added : * Foi 
Rask, for Bug's dog. " 

K Enough, enough, old comrade Î * cried the captain, 


dashing his hand across his eyes ; " come, lean on me, 
and I will lead you to the hospital. " 

Thaddeus essayed to decline the honour, but in vain ; 
and as they left the tent the dog got up and followed 

This little drama had excited the curiosity of the 
spectators to the highest degree. Captain Leopold 
d'Auverney was one of those men who, in whatever 
position the chances of nature and society may place 
them, always inspire a mingled feeling of interest and 
respect. At the first glimpse there was nothing strik- 
ing in him, — his manner was reserved, and his look 
cold. The tropical sun, though it had browned his 
cheek, had not imparted to him that vivacity of speech 
and gesture which among the Creoles is united to an 
easy carelessness of demeanour, in itself full of charm. 

D'Auverney spoke little, listened less, but showed 
himself ready to act at any moment Always the first 
in the saddle, and the last to return to camp, he seemed 
to seek a refuge from his thoughts in bodily fatigue. 
These thoughts, which had marked his brow with many 
a premature wrinkle, were not of the kind that you can 
get rid of by confiding them to a friend ; nor could they 
be discussed in idle conversation. Leopold d'Auverney, 
whose body the hardships of war could not subdue, 
seemed to experience a sense of insurmountable fatigue 
in what is termed the conflict of the feelings. He 
avoided argument as much as he sought warfare. If at 
any time he allowed himself to be drawn into a discus- 
sion, he would utter a few words full of common-sense 
and reason, and then at the moment of triumph over his 
antagonist he would stop short, and muttering " What 
good is it ? w would saunter off to the commanding offi- 
cer to glean what information he could regarding the 
enemy's movements. His comrades forgave his cold 


reserved, and silent habits, because upon every occasion 
they had found him kind, gentle, and benevolent. He 
had saved many a life at the risk of his own, and they 
well knew that though his mouth was rarely opened, 
yet his purse was never closed when a comrade had need 
of his assistance. 

D'Auverney was young; many would have guessed 
him at thirty years of age, but they would have been 
wrong, for he was some years under it. Although he 
had for a long period fought in the ranks of the Repub- 
lican army, yet all were in ignorance of his former life. 
The only one to whom he seemed ever to open his heart 
was Sergeant Thaddeus, who had joined the regiment 
with him, and would at times speak vaguely of sad 
events in his early life, It was known that D'Auverney 
had undergone great misfortunes in America; that he 
had been married ir. St. Domingo, and that his wife and 
all his family had perished in those terrible massacres 
which had marked the Republican invasion of that mag- 
nificent colony. At the time of which we write, misfor- 
tunes of this kind were so general that any one could 
sympathize with, and feel pity for, such sufferers. 

D'Auverney, therefore, was pitied less for his mis- 
fortunes than for the manner in which they had been 
brought about. Beneath his icy mask of indifference 
the traces of the incurably wounded spirit could be at 
times perceived. When he went into action his calm- 
ness returned, and in the fight he behaved as if he 
sought for the rank of general ; while after victory he 
was as gentle and unassuming as if the position of a 
private soldier would have satisfied his ambition. His 
comrades, seeing him thus despise honour and promo- 
tion, could not understand what it was that lighted up 
his countenance with a ray of hop when the action 
commenced, and they did not for a moment divine that 


the prize D ' Auverney was striving to gain was simply — ■ 

The Eepresentatives of the People, in one of their 
missions to the army, had appointed him a Chief of 
Brigade on the field of battle ; but he had declined the 
honour upon learning that it would remove him from 
his old comrade Sergeant Thaddeus. Some days after- 
wards, having returned from a dangerous expedition safe 
and sound, contrary to the general expectation and his 
own hopes, he was heard to regret the rank that he had 
refused. "For," said he, "since the enemy's guns 
always spare me, perhaps the guillotine, which ever 
strikes down those it has raised, would in time have 
claimed me. " 

Such was the character of the man upon whom 
the conversation turned as soon as he had left the 

" I would wager, " cried Lieutenant Henri, wiping a 
splash of mud off his boot which the dog had left as he 
passed him, — "1 would wager that the captain would 
not exchange the broken paw of his dog for the ten bas- 
kets of Madeira that we- caught a glimpse of in the gen- 
eral's wagon. " 

" Bah ! " cried Paschal the aide-de-camp, " that would 
be a bad bargain : the baskets are empty by now, and 
thirty empty bottles would be a poor price for a dog's paw ; 
why, you might make a good bell-handle out of it. " 

They all laughed at the grave manner in which Pas- 
chal pronounced these words, with the exception of a 
young officer of Hussars named Alfred, who remarked, — 

" I do not see any subject for chaff in this matter, 
gentlemen. This sergeant and dog, who are always at 
D 'Auverney 's heels ever since I have known him, seem 
to me more the objects of sympathy than raillery, and 
interest me greatly. " 


Paschal, annoyed that his wit had missed fire, inter- 
rupted him : " It certainly is a most sentimental scene , 
a lost dog found, and a broken arm — " 

" Captain Paschal, " said Henri, throwing an empty 
bottle outside the tent, " you are wrong ; this Bug, 
otherwise called Pierrot, excites my curiosity greatly. " 

At this moment D'Auverney returned, and sat down 
without uttering a word. His manner was still sad, but 
his. face was more calm ; he seemed not to have heard 
what was said. Pask, who had followed him, lay down 
at his feet, but kept a watchful eye on his master's 

" Pass your glass, Captain D'Auverney, and taste 
this. " 

" Oh, thank you, " replied the captain, evidently im- 
agining that he was answering a question, " the wound 
is not dangerous; there is no bone broken. " 

The respect which all felt for D'Auverney prevented 
a burst of laughter at this reply. 

" Since your mind is at rest regarding Thaddeus's 
wound, " said Henri, " and, as you may remember, we 
entered into an agreement to pass away the hours of 
bivouac by relating to one another our adventures, will 
you carry out your promise by telling us the history of 
your lame dog, and of Bug, — otherwise called Pierrot, 
that regular Gibraltar of a man? " 

To this request, which was put in a semi -jocular tone, 
D'Auverney at last yielded. 

" I will do what you ask, gentlemen," said he; " but 
you must only expect a very simple tale, in which I 
play an extremely second-rate part. If the affection 
that exists between Thaddeus, Eask, and myself leads 
you to expect anything very wonderful, I fear that 
you will be greatly disappointed. However, I will 
begin. " 


For a moment D'Auverney relapsed into thought, as 
though he wished to recall past events which had long 
since been replaced in his memory by the acts of his 
later years ; but at last, in a low voice and with fre- 
quent pauses, he began his tale. 


I WAS born in France, but at an early age I was sent 
to St. Domingo, to the care of an uncle, to whose 
daughter it had been arranged between our parents that 
I was to be married. My uncle was one of the wealthi- 
est colonists, and possessed a magnificent house and 
extensive plantations in the Plains of Acul, near Fort 
Galifet. The position of the estate, which no doubt 
you wonder at my describing so minutely, was one of 
the causes of all our disasters, and the eventual total 
ruin of our whole family. 

Eight hundred negro slaves cultivated the enormous 
domains of my uncle. Sad as the position of a slave is, 
my uncle's hardness of heart added much to the unhap- 
piness of those who had the misfortune to be his prop- 
erty. My uncle was one of the happily small number 
of planters from whom despotic power had taken away 
the gentler feelings of humanity. He was accustomed 
to see his most trifling command unhesitatingly obeyed, 
and the slightest delay on the part of his slaves in car- 
rying it out was punished with the harshest severity ; 
while the intercession either of my cousin or of myself 
too often merely led to an increase of the punishment, 
and we were only too often obliged to rest satisfied by 
secretly assuaging the injuries which we were powerless 
to prevent. 

Among the multitude of his slaves, one only had 
found favour in my uncle's sight; this was a half-caste 
Spanish dwarf, who had been given him by Lord Effing- 


ham, the Governor of Jamaica. My uncle, who had foi 
many, years resided in Brazil, and had adopted the luxu- 
rious habits of the Portuguese, loved to surround him 
self with an establishment that was in keeping with his 
wealth. In order that nothing should be wanting, he 
had made the slave presented to him by Lord Effingham 
his fool, in imitation of the feudal lords who had jesters 
attached to their households. I must say that the slave 
amply fulfilled all the required conditions. 

Habibrah, for that was the half-caste's name, was one 
of those strangely formed, or rather deformed, beings 
who would be looked upon as monsters if their very 
hideousness did not cause a laugh. This ill-featured 
dwarf was short and fat, and moved with wondrous ac- 
tivity upon a pair of slender limbs, which, when he sat 
down, bent under him like the legs of a spider. His 
enormous head, covered with a mass of red curly wool, 
was stuck between his shoulders, while his ears were so 
large that Habibrah 's comrades were in the habit of 
saying that he used them to wipe his eyes when he 
wept. On his face there was always a grin, which was 
continually changing its character, and which caused 
his ugliness to be of an ever-varying description. My 
uncle was fond of him, because of his extreme hideous- 
ness and his inextinguishable gayety. Habibrah was 
his only favourite, and led a life of ease, while the other 
slaves were overwhelmed with work. The sole duties 
of the jester were to carry a large fan, made of the 
feathers of the bird of paradise, to keep away the sand- 
flies and the mosquitoes from his master. At meal- 
times he sat upon a reed mat at his master's feet, who 
fed him with tit-bits from his own plate. Habibrah ap- 
peared to appreciate all these acts of kindness, and at 
the slightest sign from my uncle he would run to him 
with the agility of a monkey and the docility of a dog. 


I had imbibed a prejudice against my uncle's favour- 
ite slave. There was something crawling in his ser- 
vility ; for though outdoor slavery does not dishonour, 
domestic service too often debases. I felt a sentiment 
of pity for those slaves who toiled in the scorching sun, 
with scarcely a vestige of clothing to hide their chains ; 
but I despised this idle serf, with his garments orna- 
mented with gold lace and adorned with bells. Besides 
the dwarf never made use of his influence with his mas- 
ter to ameliorate the condition of his fellow-sufferers; 
on the contrary, I heard him once, when he thought 
that he and his master were alone, urge him to increase 
his severity towards his ill-fated comrades. The other 
slaves, however, did not appear to look upon him with 
any feelings of anger or rancour, but treated him with a 
timid kind of respect; and when, dressed in all the 
splendour of laced garments and a tall pointed cap orna- 
mented with bells, and quaint symbols traced upon it 
in red ink, he walked past their huts, I have heard 
them murmur in accents of awe, " He is an obi n 

These details, to which I now draw your attention, 
occupied my mind but little then. I had given myself 
up entirely to the emotion of a pure love, in which 
nothing else could mingle, — a love which was returned 
me with passion by the girl to whom I was betrothed, 
— and I gave little heed to anything that was not Marie. 
Accustomed from youth to look upon her as the future 
companion of my life, there was a curious mixture of 
the love of a brother for a sister, mingled with the pas- 
sionate adoration of a betrothed lover. 

Few men have spent their earlier years more happily 
than I have done, or have felt their souls expand into 
life in the midst of a delicious climate and all the luxu- 
ries which wealth could procure, with perfect happiness 


in the present and the brightest hopes for the future. 
No man, as I said before, could have spent his earlier 
years more happily — 

[D'Auverney paused for a moment, as if these thoughts 
of by-gone happiness had stifled his voice, and then 
added :] 

And no one could have passed his later ones in more 
profound misery and affliction. 


IN the midst of these blind illusions and hopes, my 
twentieth birthday approached. It was now the 
month of August, 1791, and my uncle had decided that 
this should be the date of my marriage with Marie. 
You can well understand that the thoughts of happiness, 
now so near, absorbed all my faculties, and how little 
notice I took of the political crisis which was then felt 
throughout the colony. I will not, therefore, speak of 
the Count de Pernier, or of M. de Blanchelande, nor of 
the tragical death of the unfortunate Colonel de Mar- 
chiste ; nor will I attempt to describe the jealousies of 
the Provincial House of Assembly of the North, and the 
Colonial Assembly (which afterwards called itself the 
General Assembly, declaring that the word " Colonial " 
had a ring of slavery in it). For my own part, I sided 
with neither ; but if I did espouse any cause, it was in 
favour of Cap, near which town my home was situate, 
in opposition to Port au Prince. 

Only once did I mix myself up in the question of the 
day. It was on the occasion of the disastrous decree of 
the 15th of May, 1791, by which the National Assem- 
bly of France admitted free men of colour to enjoy the 
same political privileges as the whites. At a ball given 
by the Governor of Cap, many of the younger colonists 
spoke in impassioned terms of this law, which levelled 
so cruel a blow at the instincts of supremacy assumed 
by the whites, with perhaps too little foundation. I 


had, as yet, taken no part in the conversation, when 1 
saw approaching the group a wealtny planter, whose 
doubtful descent caused him to be received merely upon 
sufferance by the white society. I stepped in front of 
him, and in a haughty voice I exclaimed, " Pass on, 
sir ! pass on ! or you may hear words which would cer- 
tainly be disagreeable to those with mixed blood in their 
veins. " He was so enraged at this insinuation that 
he challenged me. We fought, and each was slightly 
wounded. I confess that I was in the wrong to have thus 
provoked him, and it is probable that I should not have 
done so on a mere question of colour; but I had for some 
time past noticed that he had had the audacity to pay 
certain attentions to my cousin, and had danced with 
her the very night upon which I had insulted him. 

However, as time went on, and the date so ardently 
desired approached, I was a perfect stranger to the state 
of political ferment in which those around me lived ; 
and I never perceived the frightful cloud which already 
almost obscured the horizon, and which promised a 
storm that would sweep all before it. No one at that 
time thought seriously of a revolt among the slaves, — 
a class too much despised to be feared ; but between the 
whites and the free mulattoes there was sufficient hatred 
to cause an outbreak at any moment, which might entail 
the most disastrous consequences. 

During the first days of August a strange incident 
occurred, which threw a slight shade of uneasiness oveï 
the sunshine of my happiness. 


ON the banks of a little river which flowed through 
my uncle's estate was a small rustic pavilion in 
the midst of a clump of trees. Marie was in the habit 
of coming here every day to enjoy the sea breeze, which 
blows regularly in St. Domingo, even during the hottest 
months of the year, from sunrise until evening. Each 
morning it was my pleasant task to adorn this charming 
retreat with the sweetest flowers that I could gather. 

One morning Marie came running to me in a great 
state of alarm. Upon entering her leafy retreat she 
had perceived, with surprise and terror, all the flowers 
which I had arranged in the morning thrown upon the 
ground and trampled under foot, and a bunch of wild 
marigolds, freshly gathered, placed upon her accustomed 
seat. She had hardly recovered from her terror, when, 
in the adjoining coppice, she heard the sound of a guitar, 
and a voice, which was not mine, commenced singing a 
Spanish song ; but in her excitement she had been un- 
able to catch the meaning of the words, though she could 
hear her own name frequently repeated. Then she had 
taken to flight, and had come to me full of this strange 
and surprising event. 

This recital filled me with jealousy and indignation. 
My first suspicions pointed to the mulatto with whom 
I had fought ; but even in the midst of my perplexity I 
resolved to do nothing rashly. I soothed Marie's fears 
as best I could, and promised to watch over her without 


ceasing, until the marriage tie would give me the right 
of never leaving her. 

Believing that the intruder whose insolence had so 
alarmed Marie would not content himself with what he 
had already done, I concealed myself that very evening 
near the portion of the house in which my betrothed 's 
chamber was situated. 

Hidden among the tall stalks of the sugar-cane, and 
armed with a dagger, I waited; and I did not wait in 
vain. Towards the middle of the night my attention 
was suddenly attracted by the notes of a guitar under 
the very window of the room in which Marie reposed. 
Furious with rage, with my dagger clutched firmly in 
my hand, I rushed in the direction of the sound, crush- 
ing beneath my feet the brittle stalks of the sugar-canes. 
All of a sudden I felt myself seized and thrown upon 
my back with what appeared to be superhuman force ; 
my dagger was wrenched from my grasp, and I saw its 
point shining above me ; at the same moment I could 
perceive a pair of eyes and a double row of white teeth 
gleaming through the darkness, while a voice, in accents 
of concentrated rage, muttered, " Te tengo, te tengo I " 
.(I have you, I have you). 

More astonished than frightened, I struggled vainly 
with my formidable antagonist, and already the point 
of the dagger had pierced my clothes, when Marie, 
whom the sound of the guitar and the noise of the strug- 
gle had aroused, appeared suddenly at her window. She 
recognized my voice, saw the gleam of the knife, and 
uttered a cry of terror and affright. This cry seemed to 
paralyze the hand of my opponent. He stopped as if 
petrified; but still, as though undecided, he kept the 
point of the dagger pressed upon my chest. Then he sud- 
denly exclaimed in French, " No, I cannot ; she would 
weep too much, " and, casting away the weapon, rose to 


his feet, and in an instant disappeared in the canes ; and 
before I could rise, bruised and shaken from the strug- 
gle, no sound and no sign remained of the presence or 
the flight of my adversary. 

It was some time before I could recover my scattered 
faculties. I was more furious than ever with my un- 
known rival, and was overcome with a feeling of shame 
at being indebted to him for my life. " After all, how- 
ever, " I thought, " it is to Marie that I owe it ; for it 
was the sound of her voice that caused him to drop his 
dagger. " 

And yet I could not hide from myself that there was 
something noble in the sentiment which had caused my 
unknown rival to spare me. But who could he be ? 
One supposition after another rose in my mind, all to 
be discarded in turn. It could not be the mulatto plan- 
ter to whom my suspicions had first been directed. He 
was not endowed with such muscular power ; nor was it 
his voice. The man with whom I had struggled was 
naked to the waist ; slaves alone went about half -clothed 
in this manner. But this could not be a slave ; the feel- 
ing which had caused him to throw away the dagger 
would not have been found in the bosom of a slave, — 
and besides, my whole soul revolted at the idea of hav- 
ing a slave for a rival. What was to be done ? I deter* 
mined to wait and watch. 


MAEIE had awakened her old nurse, whom she 
looked upon almost in the light of the mother 
who had died in giving her birth, and with them I re- 
mained for the rest of the night, and in the morning 
informed my uncle of the mysterious occurrence. His 
surprise was extreme, but, like me, his pride would not 
permit him to believe that a slave would venture to 
raise 'his eyes to his daughter. The nurse received the 
strictest orders from my uncle never to leave Marie 
alone for a moment ; but as the sittings of the Provincial 
Assembly, the threatening aspect of the affairs of the 
colony, and the superintendence of the plantation al- 
lowed him but little leisure, he authorized me to accom- 
pany his daughter whenever she left the house, until 
the celebration of our nuptials ; and at the same time, 
presuming that the daring lover must be lurking in the 
neighbourhood, he ordered the boundaries of the plan- 
tation to be more strictly guarded than ever. 

After all these precautions had been taken, I deter- 
mined to put the matter to further proof. I returned to 
the summer-house by the river, and repairing the de- 
struction of the evening before, I placed a quantity of 
fresh flowers in their accustomed place. When the 
time arrived at which Marie usually sought the sweet 
shades of this sequestered spot, I loaded my rifle and 
proposed to escort her thither. The old nurse followed 
a few steps behind. 

Marie, to whom I had said nothing about my having 
set the place to rights, entered the summer-house the 


first. " See, Leopold, " said she, " my nest is in the 
same condition in which I left it yesterday ; here are 
your flowers thrown about in disorder and trampled 
to pieces, and there is that odious bouquet which does 
not appear at all faded since yesterday ; indeed, it looks 
as if it had been freshly gathered. " 

I was speechless with rage and surprise. There was 
my morning's work utterly ruined, and the wild flowers, 
at whose freshness Marie was so much astonished, had 
insolently usurped the place of the roses that I had 
strewn all over the place. 

" Calm yourself, " said Marie, who noticed my agita- 
tion ; " this insolent intruder will come here no more ; 
let us put all thoughts of him on one side, as I do this 
nasty bunc^i of flowers. " 

I did not care to undeceive her, and to tell her that 
he had returned ; yet I was pleased to see the air of 
innocent indignation with which she crushed the flowers 
under her foot. Hoping that the day Tould again come 
when I should meet my mysterious ri\*J face to face, I 
made her sit down between her nurse and myself. 

Scarcely had we done so when Marie put her finger on 
my lips : a sound, deadened by the breeze and the rip- 
pling of the stream, had struck upon her ear. I listened ; 
it was the notes of a guitar, the same melody that had 
filled me with fury on the preceding evening. I made 
a movement to start from my seat, but a gesture of 
Marie's detained me. 

" Leopold, " whispered she, " restrain yourself ; he is 
going to sing, and we shall learn who he is. " 

As she spoke, a few more notes were struck on the 
guitar, and then from the depths of the wood came the 
plaintive melody of a Spanish song, every word of which 
has remained deeply engraved on my memo*v : — 


Why dost thou fear me and fly me J 
Say, has my music no charms ? 

Do you not know that I love you ? 
Why, then, these causeless alarms! 
Maria ! 

When I perceive your slight figure 
Glide through the cocoanut grove, 

Sometimes I think 't is a spirit 
Come to reply to my love. 

Maria ! 

Sweeter your voice to mine ears 
Than the birds' song in the sky 

That, from the kingdom I 've lost, 
Over the wide ocean fly. 

Maria 1 

Far away, once I was king, 
Noble and powerful and free ; 

All I would gladly give up 
For a word, for a gesture from thee ? 
Maria I 

Tall and upright as a palm, 

Sweet in your young lover's eyes 

As the soft shade of the tree 
Mirrored in cool water lies. 

Maria ! 

But know you not that the storm 
Comes and uproots the fair tree ? 

Jealousy comes like that storm, 
Bringing destruction to thee, 

Maria ! 

Tremble, Hispaniola's daughter, 
Lest all should fade and decay ; 

And vainly you look for the arm 
To bear you in safety away. 

Maria I 


Why, then, repulse my fond love ? 

Black I am, while you are white ; 
"Night and the day, when united, 

Bring forth the beautiful light. 


A PROLONGED quavering note upon the guitar, like 
a sob, concluded the song. 

I was beside myself with rage. King ! black ! slave ! 
A thousand incoherent ideas were awakened by this 
extraordinary and mysterious song. A maddening de- 
sire to finish for once and all with this unknown beino\ 
who dared to mingle the name of Marie with songs of 
love and menace, took possession of me. I grasped my 
rifle convulsively and rushed from the summer-house. 
Marie stretched out her arms to detain me, but I was 
already in the thicket from which the voice appeared to 
have come. I searched the little wood thoroughly, I 
beat the bushes with the barrel of my rifle, I crept be- 
hind the trunks of the large trees, and walked through 
the high grass. 

Nothing, nothing, always nothing! This fruitless 
search added fuel to the fire of my anger. Was this 
insolent rival always to escape from me like a super- 
natural being ? Was I never to be able to find out who 
he was, or to meet him? At this moment the tinkling 
of bells roused me from my revery. I turned sharply 
round, the dwarf Habibrah was at my side. 

" Good-day, master, " said he, with a sidelong glance 
full of triumphant malice at the anxiety which was im- 
printed on my face. 

" Tell me, " exclaimed I, roughly, " have you seen any 
one about here ? " 


" No one except yourself, senor mio, " answered he, 

" Did you hear no voice ? " continued I. 

The slave remained silent, as though seeking for an 
evasive reply. 

My passion burst forth. " Quick, quick ! " I ex- 
claimed. " Answer me quickly, wretch ! did you hear 
a voice ? n 

He fixed his eyes boldly upon mine ; they were small 
and round, and gleamed like those of a wild cat. 

" What do you mean by a voice, master ? There are 
voices everywhere, — the voice of the birds, the voice of 
the stream, the voice of the wind in the trees — " 

I shook him roughly. " Miserable buffoon ! " I cried, 
" cease your quibbling, or you shall hear another voice 
from the barrel of my rifle. Answer at once ; did you 
hear a man singing a Spanish song ? " 

" Yes, senor, " answered he, calmly. " Listen, and I 
will tell you all about it. I was walking on the out- 
skirts of the wood listening to what the silver bells of 
my gorra [cap] were telling me, when the wind brought 
to my ears some Spanish words, — the first language 
that I heard when my age could have been counted by 
months, and my mother carried me slung at her back in 
a hammock of red and yellow wool. I love the lan- 
guage ; it recalls to me the time when I was little with- 
out being a dwarf, — a little child, and not a buffoon ; 
and so I listened to the song. " 

" Is that all you have to say ? " cried I, impatiently. 

" Yes, handsome master ; but if you like I can tell 
you who the man was who sang. " 

I felt inclined to clasp him in my arms. " Oh, 
speak ! " I exclaimed ; " speak ! Here is my purse, and 
ten others fuller than that shall be yours if you will tell 
me his name. " 


He took the purse, opened it, and smiled. " Ten 
purses fuller than this, " murmured he ; " that will make 
a fine heap of good gold coins. But do not be impatient, 
young master, I am going to tell you all. Do you re- 
member the last verse of his song, — something about 
' 1 am black, and you are white, and the union of the 
two produces the beautiful light ' ? Well, if this song 
is true, Habibrah, your humble slave, was born of a 
negress and a white, and must be more beautiful than 
you, master. I am the offspring of day and night, there- 
fore I am more beautiful than a white man, and — " 

He accompanied this rhapsody with bursts of laughter. 

" Enough of buffoonery, " cried I ; " tell me who was 
singing in the wood ! * 

" Certainly, master ; the man who sang such buffoon- 
eries, as you rightly term thern, could only have been — 
a fool like me ! Have I not gained my ten purses ? " 

T raised my hand to chastise his insolence, when a 
wild shriek rang through the wood from the direction of 
the summer-house. It was Marie's voice. Like an 
arrow I darted to the spot, wondering what fresh mis- 
fortune could be in store for us, and in a few moments 
arrived, out of breath, at the door of the pavilion. A 
terrible spectacle presented itself to my eyes. 

An enormous alligator, whose body was half concealed 
by the reeds and water plants, had thrust his monstrous 
head through one of the leafy sides of the summer- 
house ; his hideous, widely-opened mouth threatened a 
young negro of colossal height, who with one arm sus- 
tained Marie's fainting form, while with the other he 
had plunged the iron portion of a hoe between the sharp 
and pointed teeth of the monster. The reptile struggled 
fiercely against the bold and courageous hand that held 
him at bay. 

As I appeared at the door, Marie uttered a cry of joy, 


and extricating herself from the support of the negro, 
threw herself into my arms with, " I am saved ! I am 
saved ! " 

At the movement and exclamation of Marie the negro 
turned abruptly round, crossed his arms on his breast, 
and casting a look of infinite sorrow upon my betrothed, 
remained immovable, taking no heed of the alligator, 
which, having freed itself from the hoe, was advancing 
on him in a threatening manner. There would have 
been a speedy end of the courageous negro had I not 
rapidly placed Marie on the knees of her nurse (who, 
more dead than alive, was gazing upon the scene), and 
coming close to the monster, discharged my carbine into 
its yawning mouth. The huge reptile staggered back, 
its bleeding jaws opened and shut convulsively, its eyes 
closed ; and after one or two un vailing efforts it rolled 
over upon its back, with its scaly feet stiffening in the 
air. It was dead. 

The negro whose life 1 had so happily preserved turned 
his head, and saw the last convulsive struggles of the 
monster; then he fixed his eyes upon Marie, who had 
again cast herself into my arms, and in accents of the 
deepest despair, he exclaimed in Spanish, " Why did 
you kill him ? " and without waiting for a reply leaped 
into the thicket and disappeared. 


Ï^HE terrible scene, its singular conclusion, the ex- 
traordinary mental emotions of every kind which 
had accompanied and followed my vain researches in 
the wood, had made my brain whirl. Marie was still 
stupefied with the danger that she had so narrowly es- 
caped, and some time elapsed before we could frame 
coherent words, or express ourselves otherwise than by 
looks and clasping of the hands. 

At last I broke the silence : " Come, Marie, let us 
leave this ; some fatality seems attached to the place. " 

She rose eagerly, as if she had only been waiting for 
my permission to do so, and leaning upon my arm, we 
quitted the pavilion. I asked her how it had happened 
that succour had so opportunely arrived when the danger 
was so imminent, and if she knew who the slave was 
who had come to her assistance ; for that it was a slave, 
was shown by his coarse linen trousers, — a dress only 
worn by that unhappy class. 

" The man," replied Marie, " is no doubt one of my 
father's negroes, who was at work in the vicinity when 
the appearance of the alligator made me scream; and 
my cry must have warned him of my danger. All I 
know is, that he rushed out of the wood and came to 
my help. " 

" From which side did he come ? " asked I. 

" From the opposite side from which the song came, 
and into which you had just gone. " 


This statement upset the conclusion that T had been 
drawing from the Spanish words that the negro had ad- 
dressed to me, and from the song in the same language 
by my unknown rival. But yet there was a crowd of 
other similarities. This negro of great height and 
powerful muscular development might well have been 
the adversary with whom I had struggled on the preceding 
night. In that case his half-clothed person would fur- 
nish a striking proof. The singer in the wood had said, 
" I am black, " — a further proof. He had declared him- 
self to be a king, and this one was only a slave ; but I 
recollected that in my brief examination I had been 
surprised at the noble appearance of his features, though 
of course accompanied by the characteristic signs of the 
African race. 

The more that I thought of his appearance, the noble- 
ness of his deportment, and his magnificent proportions. 
I felt that there might be some truth in his statement 
that he had been a king. But then came the crushing 
blow to my pride : if he had dared to gaze with an eye 
of affection upon Marie, if he had made her the object 
of his serenades, — he, a negro and a slave, — ■ what 
punishment could be sufficiently severe for his presump- 
tion ? With these thoughts all my indecision returned 
again, and again my anger increased against the myste- 
rious unknown. But at the moment that these ideas 
filled my brain, Marie dissipated them entirely by ex- 
claiming, in her gentle voice, — 

" My Leopold, we must seek out this brave negro, and 
pay him the debt of gratitude that we owe him ; for 
without him I should have been lost, for you would 
have arrived too late. " 

These few words had a decisive effect. They did not 
alter my determination to seek out the slave, but they 
entirely altered the design with which I sought him; 


for it was to recompense and not to punish him that I 
was now eager. 

My uncle learned from me that he owed his daughter's 
life to the courage of one of his slaves, and he promised 
me his liberty as soon as I could find him out. 


UP to that time my feelings had restrained me from 
going into those portions of the plantation where 
the slaves were at work ; it had been too painful for me 
to see so much suffering which I was powerless to alle- 
viate. But on the day after the events had taken place 
which I have just narrated, upon my uncle asking me 
to accompany him on his tour of inspection, I accepted 
his proposal with eagerness, hoping to meet among the 
labourers the preserver of my much-beloved Marie. 

I had the opportunity in this visit of seeing how 
great a power the master exercises over his slaves, but 
at the same time I could perceive at what a cost this 
power was bought; for though at the presence of my 
uncle all redoubled their efforts, I could perceive that 
there was as much hatred as terror in the looks that 
they furtively cast upon him. 

Irascible by temperament, my uncle seemed vexed at 
being unable to discover any object upon which to vent 
his wrath, until Habibrah the buffoon, who was ever at 
his heels, pointed out to him a young negro, who, over- 
come by heat and fatigue., had fallen asleep under a 
clump of date-trees. My uncle stepped quickly up to 
him, shook him violently, and in angry tones ordered 
him to resume his work. 

The terrified slave rose to his feet, and in so doing 
disclosed a Bengal rose-tree upc*' ^rhich he had acci- 


dentally lain, and which my uncle prized highly. The 
shrub was entirely destroyed. 

At this the master, already irritated at what he called 
the idleness of his slave, became furious. Foaming with 
rage, he unhooked from his belt the whip with wire- 
plated thongs, which he always carried with him on 
his rounds, and raised his arm to strike the negro who 
had fallen at his feet. 

The whip did not fall. I shall, as long as I live, 
never forget that moment. A powerful grasp arrested 
the hand of the angry planter, and a negro (it was the 
very one that I was in search of) exclaimed, " Punish 
me, for I have offended you ; but do not hurt my brother, 
who has but broken your rose-tree. " 

This unexpected interposition from the man to whom 
I owed Marie's safety, his manner, his look, and the 
haughty tone of his voice, struck me with surprise. 
But his generous intervention, far from causing my 
uncle to blush for his causeless anger, only increased 
the rage of the incensed master, and turned his anger 
upon the new comer. 

Exasperated to the highest pitch, my uncle disengaged 
his arm from the grasp of the tall negro, and pouring 
out a volley of threats, again raised the whip to strike 
the first victim of his anger. This time, however, it 
was torn from his hand, and the negro, breaking the 
handle studded with iron nails as you would break a 
straw, cast it upon the ground and trampled upon the 
instrument of degrading punishment. 

I was motionless with surprise ; my uncle with rage, 
for it was an unheard-of thing for him to find his au- 
thority thus contemned. His eyes appeared ready to 
start from their sockets, and his lips quivered with 

The negro gazed upon him calmly, and then, with a 


dignified air, he offered him an axe that he held in his 
hand. " White man, " said he, " if you wish to strike 
me, at least take this axe. " 

My uncle, beside himself with rage, would certainly 
have complied with the request, for he stretched out his 
hand to grasp the dangerous weapon ; but I in my turn 
interfered, and. seizing the axe threw it into the well of 
a sugar-mill which was close at hand. 

" What have you done ? " asked my uncle, angrily. 

" I have saved you, " answered I, " from the unhappi- 
ness of striking the preserver of your daughter. It is 
to this slave that you owe Marie ; it is the negro to 
whom you have promised liberty. " 

It was an unfortunate moment in which to remind 
my uncle of his promise. My words could not soothe 
the wounded dignity of the planter. 

" His liberty ! " replied he, savagely. " Yes, he has de^ 
served that an end should be put to his slavery. His 
liberty indeed ! we shall see what sort of liberty the 
members of a court-martial will accord him. " 

These menacing words chilled my blood. In vain did 
Marie later join her entreaties to mine. The negro 
whose negligence had been the cause of this scene was 
punished with a severe flogging, while his defender was 
thrown into the dungeons of Fort Galifet, under the 
terrible accusation of having assaulted a white man. 
For a slave who did this, the punishment was invaria- 
bly death. 


YOU may judge, gentlemen, how much all these cir- 
cumstances excited my curiosity and interest. I 
made every inquiry regarding the prisoner, and some 
strange particulars came to my knowledge. I learned 
that all his comrades displayed the greatest respect for 
the young negro. Slave as he was, he had but to make 
a sign to be implicitly obeyed. He was not born upon 
the estate, nor did any one know his father or mother : 
all that was known of him was that some years ago a 
slave ship had brought him to St. Domingo. This cir- 
cumstance rendered the influence which he exercised 
over the slaves the more extraordinary, for as a rule the 
negroes born upon the island profess the greatest con- 
tempt for the Congos, — a term which they apply to all 
slaves brought direct from Africa. 

Although he seemed a prey to deep dejection, his 
enormous strength, combined with his great skill, ren- 
dered him very valuable in the plantation. He could 
turn more quickly, and for a longer period, than a horse 
the wheels of the sugar-mills, and often in a single day 
performed the work of ten of his companions to save 
them from the punishment to which their negligence or 
incapacity had rendered them liable. For this reason 
he was adored by the slaves ; but the respect that they 
paid him was of an entirely different character from the 
superstitious dread with which they looked upon Habi- 
brah the Jester. 


What was more strange than all was the modesty and 
gentleness with which he treated his equals, in contrast 
to the pride and haughtiness which he displayed to the 
negroes who acted as overseers. These privileged slaves, 
the intermediary links in the chain of servitude, too 
often exceed the little brief authority that is delegated 
to them, and find a cruel pleasure in overwhelming those 
beneath them with work. Not one of them, however, 
had ever dared to inflict any species of punishment on 
him, for had they done so, twenty negroes would have 
stepped forward to take his place, while he would have 
looked gravely on, as though he considered that they 
were merely performing a duty. The strange being was 
known throughout the negro quarter as Pierrot 


"T^HE whole of these circumstances took a firm hold 
■*- upon my youthful imagination. Marie, inspired 
by compassion and gratitude, applauded my enthusiasm , 
and Pierrot excited our interest so much that I deter- 
mined to visit him and offer him my services in extri- 
cating him from his perilous position. As the nephew 
of one of the richest colonists in the Cap, I was, in spite 
of my youth, a captain in the Acul Militia. This regi- 
ment, and a detachment of the Yellow Dragoons, had 
charge of Fort Galifet ; the detachment was commanded 
by a non-commissioned officer, to whose brother I had 
once had the good fortune to render an important ser- 
vice, and who therefore was entirely devoted to me. 

[Here the listeners at once pronounced the name of 

You are right, gentlemen ; and as you may well believe, 
I had not much trouble in penetrating to the cell in which 
the negro was confined. As a captain in the militia, I 
had of course the right to visit the fort; but to evade 
the suspicions of my uncle, whose rage was still un- 
abated, I took care to go there at the time of his noon- 
day siesta. All the soldiers too, except those on guard, 
were asleep, and guided by Thaddeus I came to the door 
of the cell. He opened it for me, and then discreetly 

The negro was seated on the ground, for on account of 
his height he could r^t stand upright. He was not 


alone ; an enormous dog was crouched at his feet, which 
rose with a growl, and moved toward me. 

" Eask ! " cried the negro. 

The dog ceased growling, and again lay down at his 
master's feet, and began eating some coarse food. 

I was in uniform, and the daylight that came through 
the loophole in the wall of the cell was so feeble that 
Pierrot could not recognize my features. 

" I am ready, " said he, in a clear voice. 

" I thought, " remarked I, surprised at the ease with 
which he moved, " that you were in irons. " 

He kicked something that jingled. 

" Irons ; oh, I broke them ! " 

There was something in the tone in which he uttered 
these words that seemed to say, " I was not born to wear 
fetters. " 

I continued : " I did not know that they had per- 
mitted you to have a dog with you. " 

" They did not allow it ; I brought him in. " 

I was more and more astonished. Three bolts closed 
the door on the outside, the loop hole was scarcely six 
inches in width, and had two iron bars across it. 

He seemed to divine my thoughts, and rising as 
nearly erect as the low roof would permit, he pulled out 
with ease a large stone placed under the loop-hole, re- 
moved the iron bars, and displayed an opening suffi- 
ciently large to permit two men to pass through. This 
opening looked upon a grove of bananas and cocoa-nut 
trees which covered the hill upon which the fort was 

Surprise rendered me dumb ; at that moment a ray of 
light fell on my face. The prisoner started as if he had 
accidentally trodden upon a snake, and his head struck 
against the ceiling of the cell. A strange mixture of 
opposing feelings passed over his face, — hatred, kind- 


ness, and astonishment being all mingled together; but 
recovering himself with an effort, his face once more 
became cold and calm, and he gazed upon me as if I 
was entirely unknown to him. 

" I can live two days more without eating, " said he. 

I saw how thin he had become, and made a movement 
of horror. 

He continued : " My dog will only eat from my hand, 
and had I not enlarged the loop-hole, poor Eask would 
have died of hunger. It is better that he should live, 
for I know that I am condemned to death. " 

" No, " I said ; " no, you shall not die of hunger. " 

He misunderstood me. " Very well, " answered he. 
with a bitter smile, " I could have lived two days yet 
without food, but I am ready: to-day is as good as to- 
morrow, Do not hurt Eask. " 

Then I understood what he meant when he said " I 
am ready " Accused of a crime the punishment for 
which was death, he believed that I had come to an- 
nounce his immediate execution ; and yet this man 
endowed with herculean strength, with all the avenues 
of escape open to him, had in a calm and childlike man- 
ner repeated, " I am ready ! " 

" Do not hurt Eask, " said he, once more. 

I could restrain myself no longer. " What ! " I ex- 
claimed, " not only do you take me for your executioner, 
but you think so meanly of my humanity that you be- 
lieve I would injure this poor dog, who has never done 
me any harm ! " 

His manner softened, and there was a slight tremor 
in his voice as he offered me his hand, saying, " White 
man, pardon me ; but I love my dog, and your race have 
cruelly injured me. " 

T embraced him, T clasped his hand, I did my best to 
undeceive him. " Do you not know me?" asked I. 


* I know that you are white, and that a negro is 
nothing in the eyes of men of your colour ; besides, you 
have injured me. " 

" In what manner ? n exclaimed I, in surprise. 

" Have you not twice saved my life ? " 

This strange accusation made me smile ; he perceived 
it, and smiled bitterly : " Yes, I know it too well : once 
you saved my life from an alligator, and once from a 
planter; and what is worse, I am denied the right to 
hate you. I am very unhappy. " 

The strangeness of his language and of his ideas sur- 
prised me no longer; it was in harmony with himself. 
" I owe more to you than you can owe to me. I owe you 
the life of Marie, — of my betrothed. " 

He started as though he had received some terrible 
shock. " Marie ! " repeated he in stifled tones, and his 
face fell in his hands, which trembled violently, while 
his bosom rose and fell with heavy sighs. 

I must confess that once again my suspicions were 
aroused ; but this time there were no feelings of anger 
or jealousy. I was too near my happiness, and he was 
trembling upon the brink of death, so that I could not 
for a moment look upon him as a rival; and even had I 
done so, his forlorn condition would have excited my 
compassion and sympathy. 

At last he raised his head. " Go, " said he ; " do not 
thank me. " After a pause he added, " And yet my 
rank is as lofty as your own. " 

These last words roused my curiosity. I urged him 
to tell me of his position and his sufferings; but he 
maintained an obstinate silence. 

My proceedings, however, had touched his heart, and 
my entreaties appeared to have vanquished his distaste 
for life. He left his cell, and in a short time returned 
with some bananas and * large cocoa-nut ; then he re 


closed the opening and began to eat. As we conversed, 
I remarked that he spoke French and Spanish with 
equal facility, and that his education had not been en- 
tirely neglected. He knew many Spanish songs, which 
he sang with great feeling. Altogether he was a mys- 
tery that I endeavoured in vain to solve, for he would 
give me no key to the riddle. At last, with regret, I was 
compelled to leave him, after having urged on my faith- 
ful Thaddeus to permit him every possible indulgence. 


EVEEY day at the same hour I visited him. His 
position rendered me very uneasy, for in spite of 
all our prayers, my uncle obstinately refused to with- 
draw his complaint. I did not conceal my fears from 
Pierrot, who however listened to them with indifference. 

Often Eask would come in with a large palm-leaf tied 
round his neck. His master would take it off, read 
some lines traced upon it in an unknown language, and 
then tear it up. I had ceased to question him in any 
matters connected with himself. 

One day as I entered he took no notice of me ; he was 
seated with his back to the door of the eel], and was 
whistling in melancholy mood the Spanish air, " Yo que 
soy contrabandista " (" A smuggler am I "). When he 
had completed it, he turned sharply round to me, and 
exclaimed : " Brother, if you ever doubt me, promise 
that you will cast aside all suspicion on hearing me sing 
this air. " 

His look was earnest, and I promised what he asked, 
without noticing the words upon which he laid so much 
stress, " If you ever doubt me. " He took the empty half 
of a cocoa-nut which he had brought in on the day of 
my first visit, and had preserved ever since, filled it 
with palm wine, begged me to put my lips to it, and 
then drank it off at a draught From that day he al- 
ways called me brother. 

And now I began to cherish a hope of saving Pierrot's 
life. My uncle's anger had cooled down a little. The 


preparations for the festivities connected with his 
daughter's wedding had caused his feelings to flow in 
gentle channels. Marie joined her entreaties to mine. 
Each day I pointed out to him that Pierrot had had no 
desire to insult him, but had merely interposed to pre- 
vent him from committing an act of perhaps too great 
severity ; that the negro had at the risk of his life saved 
Marie from the alligator ; and besides, Pierrot was the 
strongest of all his slaves (for now I sought to save 
his life, not to obtain his liberty) ; that he was able to 
do the work of ten men, and that his single arm was 
sufficient to put the rollers of a sugar-mill in motion. 
My uncle listened to me calmly, and once or twice 
hinted that he might not follow up his complaint. 

I did not say a word to the negro of the change that 
had taken place, hoping that I should soon be the mes- 
senger to announce to him his restoration to liberty. 
What astonished me greatly was, that though he be- 
lieved that he was under sentence of death, he made no 
effort to avail himself of the means of escape that lay in 
his power. I spoke to him of this. 

" I am forced to remain, " said he, simply, " or they 
would think that I was afraid. " 


ONE morning Marie came to me radiant with happi- 
ness ; upon her gentle face was a sweeter expres- 
sion than even the joys of pure love could produce, for 
written upon it was the knowledge of a good deed. 

" Listen, " said she. " In three days we shall be mar- 
ried. We shall soon — " 

I interrupted her. 

" Do not say soon, Marie, when there is yet an inter- 
val of three days. " 

She blushed and smiled. " Do not be foolish, Leo- 
pold, " replied she. " An idea has struck me which has 
made me very happy. You know that yesterday I went 
to town with my father to buy all sorts of things for our 
wedding. I only care for jewels because you say that 
they become me ; T would give all my pearls for a single 
flower from the bouquet which that odious man with the 
marigolds destroyed. But that is not what I meant to 
say. My father wished to buy me everything that I 
admired ; and among other things there was a basquina 
of Chinese satin embroidered with flowers, which I ad- 
mired. It was very expensive. My father noticed that 
the dress had attracted my attention. As we were return- 
ing home, I begged him to promise me a boon after the 
manner of the knights of old : you know how he delights 
to be compared to them. He vowed on his honour that 
he would grant me whatever I asked, thinking of course 
that it was the basquina of Chinese satin ; but no, it is 


Pierrot's pardon that I will ask for as my nuptial 

present. " 

I could not refrain from embracing her tenderly. My 
uncle's word was sacred, and while Marie ran to him to 
claim its fulfilment, I hastened to Fort Galifet to con- 
vey the glad news to Pierrot. 

" Brother," exclaimed I, as I entered, " rejoice! your 
life is safe ; Marie has obtained it as a wedding present 
from her father. " 

The slave shuddered. 

" Marie — wedding — my life ! What reference have 
these things to one another ? " 

" It is very simple, " answered I. " Marie, whose life 
you saved, is to be married — " 

" To whom ? " exclaimed the negro, a terrible change 
coming over his face. 

" Did you not know that she was to be married to me ?" 

His features relaxed. " Ah, yes, " he replied ; " and 
when is the marriage to take place ? " 

" On August the 22d. " 

" On August the 22d ! Are you mad ? " cried he, with 
terror painted in his countenance. 

He stopped abruptly ; I looked at him with astonish- 
ment. After a short pause he clasped my hand : 
" Brother, " said he, " I owe you so much that I must 
give you a warning. Trust to me ; take up your resi- 
dence in Cap, and get married before the 22d. " 

Tn vain I entreated him to explain his mysterious 

• Farewell, " said he, in solemn tones ; " I have perhaps 
said too much, but I hate ingratitude even more than 
perjury. " 

I left the prison a prey to feelings of great uneasiness , 
but all these were soon effacpd by the thoughts of my 
approaching happiness. 


That very day my uncle withdrew his charge, and I 
returned to the fort to release Pierrot. Thaddeus, on 
hearing the noise, accompanied me to the prisoner's 
cell ; but he was gone ! Kask alone remained, and came 
up to me wagging his tail. To his neck was fastened 
a palm-leaf, upon which were written these words : 
" Thanks ; for the third time you have saved my life. 
Do not forget your promise, friend ; " while underneath, 
in lieu of signature, were the words : " Yo que soy 
contrabandists " 

Thaddeus was even more astonished than I was, for 
he was ignorant of the enlargement of the loop-hole, and 
firmly believed that the negro had changed himself into 
a dog. I allowed him to remain in this belief, content- 
ing myself with making him promise to say nothing of 
what he had seen. I wished to take Eask home with 
me, but on leaving the fort he plunged into a thickefe 
and disappeared. 


MY uncle was furiously enraged" at the escape of the 
negro. He ordered a diligent search to be made 
for him, and wrote to the governor placing Pierrot en- 
tirely at his disposal should he be re-taken. 

The 22d of August arrived. My union with Marie 
was celebrated with every species of rejoicing at the 
parish church of Acul. How happily did that day com- 
mence from which all our misfortunes were to date ! I 
was intoxicated with my happiness, and Pierrot and his 
mysterious warning were entirely banished from my 

At last the day came to a close, and my wife had 
retired to her apartments, but for a time duty forbade 
me joining her there. My position as a captain of mili- 
tia required me that eveniDg to make the round of the 
guards posted about Acul. This nightly precaution was 
absolutely necessary owing to the disturbed state of the 
colony, caused by occasional outbreaks among the ne- 
groes, which, however, had been promptly repressed. 
My uncle was the first to recall me to the recollection of 
my duty. I had no option but to yield, and, putting 
on my uniform, I went out. I visited the first few 
guards without discovering any cause of alarm; but 
towards midnight, as half buried in my own thoughts I 
was patrolling the shores of the bay, I perceived upon 
the horizon a ruddy light in the direction of Limonade 
and St. Louis da Morin. At first my escort attributed 
it to some accidental conflagration; but in a few mo- 

.buG-JARGAL. 49 

ments the flames became so vivid, and the smoke rising 
before the wind grew so thick, that I ordered an imme- 
diate return to the fort to give the alarm, and to request 
that help might be sent in the direction of the fire. 

In passing through the quarters of the negroes who 
belonged to our estate, I was surprised at the extreme 
disorder that reigned there. The majority of the slaves 
were afoot, and were talking together with great earnest- 
ness. One strange word was pronounced with the greatest 
respect : It was Bug-Jargal, which occurred continually 
in the almost unintelligible dialect that they used. 
From a word or two which I gathered here and there, I 
learned that the negroes of the northern districts were in 
open revolt, and had set fire to the dwelling-houses and 
the plantations on the other side of Cap. Passing 
through a marshy spot, I discovered a quantity of axes 
and other tools, which would serve as weapons, hidden 
among the reeds. 

My suspicions were now thoroughly aroused, and I 
ordered the whole of the Acul militia to get under arms, 
and gave the command to my lieutenant ; and while my 
poor Marie was expecting me, I, obeying my uncle's 
orders (who, as I have mentioned, was a member of the 
Provincial Assembly) took the road to Cap, with such 
soldiers as I had been able to muster. 

I shall never forget the appearance of the town as we 
approached. The flames from the plantations which 
were burning all around it threw a lurid light upon the 
scene, which was only partially obscured by the clouds 
of smoke which the wind drove into the narrow streets. 
Immense masses of sparks rose from the burning heaps 
of sugar-cane, and fell like fiery snow on the roofs of 
the houses, and on the rigging of the vessels at anchor 
in the roadsteads, at every moment threatening the 
town of Cap with as serious a conflagration as was al- 


ready raging in its immediate neighbourhood. It was 
a terrible sight to witness the terror-stricken inhabitants 
exposing their lives to preserve from so destructive a 
visitant their habitations, which perhaps was the last 
portion of property left to them; while, on the other 
hand, the vessels, taking advantage of a fair wind, and 
fearing the same fate, had already set sail, and were 
gliding over an ocean reddened by the flames of tb<? 


STUNNED by the noise of the minute-guns from the 
fort, by the cries of the fugitives and the distant 
crash of falling buildings, I did not know in what direc 
tion to lead my men ; but meeting in the main square 
the captain of the Yellow Dragoons, he advised me to 
proceed direct to the governor. 

Other hands have painted the disasters of Cap, and I 
must pass quickly over my recollections of them, written 
as they are in fire and blood. I will content myself 
with saying that the insurgent slaves were already mas- 
ters of Dondon, of Terrier-Eouge, of the town of Ouana- 
minte, and of the plantation of Limbe. This last news 
filled me with uneasiness, owing to the proximity of 
Limbe to Acul. I made all speed to the Government 
House. All was in confusion there. I asked for orders, 
and begged that instant measures might be taken for the 
security of Acul, which I feared the insurgents were 
already threatening. With the governor (Monsieur de 
Blanchelande) were M. de Kouvray, the brigadier and 
one of the largest landholders in Cap ; M. de Touzard, 
the lieutenant-colonel of the Eegiment of Cap ; a great 
many members of the Colonial and the Provincial As- 
semblies, and numbers of the leading colonists. As I 
entered, all were engaged in a confused argument. 

" Your Excellency, " said a member of the Provincial 
Assembly, " it is only too true, — it is the negroes, and 
not the free mulattoes. It has often been pointed out 
that there was danger m that direction. " 


" You make that statement without believing in it& 
truth, " answered a member of the Colonial Assembly, 
bitterly ; " and you only say it to gain credit at our 
expense. So far from expecting a rising of the slaves, 
you got up a sham one in 1789, — a ridiculous farce, in 
which with a supposed insurgent force of three thousand 
slaves one national volunteer only was killed, and that 
most likely by his own comrades. " 

" I repeat, * replied the Provincial, " that we can see 
farther than you. It is only natural. We remain upon 
the spot and study the minutest details of the colony, 
while you and your Assembly hurry off to France to 
make some absurd proposals, which are often met with 
a national reprimand Ridiculus mus. " 

The member of the Colonial Assembly answered with 
a sneer : " Our fellow-citizens re-elected us all without 
hesitation. " 

" It was your Assembly, " retorted the other, " that 
caused the execution of that poor devil who neglected to 
wear a tricoloured cockade in a café, and who com- 
menced a petition for capital punishment to be inflicted 
on the mulatto Lacombe with that worn-out phrase, ' In 
the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy 

" It is false ! " exclaimed the other ; " there has always 
been a struggle of principles against privileges between 
our Assemblies. " 

" Ha, monsieur ! I see now you are an Independent. " 

" That is tantamount to allowing that you are in 
favour of the White Cockade : I leave you to get out 
of that confession as best you may. " 

More might have passed, but the governor interposed : 
* Gentlemen, gentlemen, what has this to do with the 
present state of affairs, and the pressing danger that 
threatens us ? Listen to the reports that I have received. 


The revolt began this night at ten o'clock among the 
slaves in the Turpin Plantation. The negroes, headed 
by an English slave named Bouckmann, were joined by 
the blacks from Clement, Trémés, Flaville, and Nee. 
They set fire to all the plantations, and massacred the 
colonists with the most unheard-of barbarities. By one 
single detail I can make you comprehend all the horrors 
accompanying this insurrection. The standard of the 
insurgents is the body of a white child on the point of 
a pike. " 

A general cry of horror interrupted the governor's 

" So much, " continued he, * for what has passed out- 
side the town. Within its limits all is confusion. Fear 
has rendered many of the inhabitants forgetful of the 
duties of humanity, and they have murdered their 
slaves. Nearly all have confined their negroes behind 
bolts and bars. The white artisans accuse the free 
mulattoes of being participators in the revolt, and many 
have had great difficulty in escaping from the fury of 
the populace. I have had to grant them a place of ref- 
uge in a church, guarded by a regiment of soldiers ; and 
now, to prove that they have nothing in common with 
the insurgents, they ask that they may be armed and 
led against the rebels. " 

" Do nothing of the kind, your Excellency ! " cried a 
voice which I recognized as that of the planter with 
whom I had had a duel, — " do nothing of the kind ! 
give no arms to the mulattoes ! " 

" What ! do you not want to fight ? " asked a planter, 
with a sneer. 

The other did not appear to hear him, and continued: 
" These men of mixed blood are our worst enemies, and 
we must take every precaution against them. It is from 
that quarter that the insurgents are recruited ; the ne- 


groes have but little to do with the rising. " The poor 
wretch hoped by his abuse of the mulattoes to prove 
that he had nothing in common with them, and to clear 
himself from the imputation of having black blood in 
his veins; but the attempt was too barefaced, and a 
murmur of disgust rose up on all sides. 

"Yes," said M. de Kouvray, "the slaves have some- 
thing to do with it, for they are forty to one ; and we 
should be in a serious plight if we could only oppose 
the negroes and the mulattoes with whites like you. " 

The planter bit his lips. 

" General, " said the governor, " what answer shall be 
given to the petition ? Shall the mulattoes have the 
arms ? " 

" Give them weapons, your Excellency ; let us make 
use of every willing hand. And you, sir," he added, 
turning to the colonist of doubtful colour, " go arm 
yourself, and join your comrades. " 

The humiliated planter slunk away, filled with con- 
centrated rage. 

But the cries of distress which rang through the town 
reached even to the chamber in which the council was 
being held. M. de Blanchelande hastily pencilled a few 
words upon a slip of paper, and handed it to one of his 
aides-de-camp, who at once left the room. 

" Gentlemen, " he said, " the mulattoes will receive 
arms ; but there are many more questions to be settled. " 

" The Provincial Assembly should at once be con- 
voked, " said the planter who had been speaking when 
first I entered. 

" The Provincial Assembly ! " retorted his antagonist ; 
" what is the Provincial Assembly ? " 

" You do not know because you are a member of the 
Colonial Assembly," replied the favourer of the White 

bug-jargal. 55 

The Independent interrupted him. " I know no more 
of the Colonial than the Provincial- I only recognize 
the General Assembly. " 

" Gentlemen, " exclaimed a planter, " while we are 
losing time with this nonsense, tell me what is to be- 
come of my cotton and my cochineal. " 

" And my indigo at Lumbé ? " 

" And my negroes, for whom I paid twenty dollars 
a-head all round ? " said the captain of a slave-ship. 

" Each minute that you waste, " continued another 
colonist, " costs me ten quintals of sugar, which at sev- 
enteen piastres the quintal makes one hundred and 
thirty livres, ten sous, in French money, by the — " 

Here the rival upholders of the two Assemblies again 
sought to renew their argument. 

" Morbleu, " said M. de Eouvray in a voice of thunder, 
striking the table violently, " what eternal talkers you 
are ! What do we care about your two Assemblies ? 
Summon both of them, your Excellency, and I will form 
them into two regiments ; and when they march against 
the negroes we shall see whether their tongues or their 
muskets make the most noise. " 

Then turning towards me he whispered : " Between 
the two Assemblies and the governor nothing can be 
done. These fine talkers spoil all, as they do in Paris. 
If I was seated in his Excellency's chair, I would throw 
all these fellows out of the window, and with my sol- 
diers and a dozen crosses of St. Louis to promise, I 
would sweep away all the rebels in the island. These 
fictitious ideas of liberty, which they have all run mad 
after in France, do not do out here. Negroes should be 
treated so as not to upset them entirely by sudden liber- 
ation ; all the terrible events of to-day are merely the re- 
sult of this utterly mistaken policy, and this rising of the 
slaves is the natural result of the taking of the Bastille. * 


While the old soldier thus explained to me his views» 
— a little narrow-minded perhaps, but full of the frank- 
ness of conviction, — the stormy argument was at its 
height. A certain planter, one among the few who 
were bitten with the rabid mania of the revolution, and 

who called himself Citizen General C , because he 

had assisted at a few sanguinary executions, exclaimed : 

" We must have punishments rather than battles. 
Every nation must exist by terrible examples : let us 
terrify the negroes. It was 1 who quieted the slaves 
during the risings of June and July by lining the ap- 
proach to my house with a double row of negro heads. 
Let each one join me in this, and let us détend the 
entrances to Cap with the slaves who are still in our 
hands. " 

" How ? " " What do you mean ? " " Folly ! " " The 
height of imprudence ! " was heard on all sides. 

" You do not understand me, gentlemen. Let us make 
a ring of negro heads, from Fort Picolet to Point Cara- 
cole. The rebels, their comrades, will not then dare to 
approach us. I have five hundred slaves who have re- 
mained faithful : I offer them at once. " 

This abominable proposal was received with a cry of 
horror. " It is infamous ! It is too disgusting ! " was 
repeated by at least a dozen voices. 

" Extreme steps of this sort have brought us to the 
verge of destruction, " said a planter. " If the execution 
of the insurgents of June and July had not been so hur- 
ried on, we should have held in our hands the clew to 
the conspiracy, which the axe of the executioner divided 
forever. " 

Citizen C ■ was silenced for a moment by this out- 
burst ; then in an injured tone he muttered : " I did not 
think that i" above all others should have been suspected 
of cruelty. Why, all my life I have been mixed un 


with the lovers of the negro race. I am in correspond- 
ence with Briscot and Pruneau de Pomme Gouge, in 
France; with Hans Sloane, in England; with Magaw, 
in America ; with Pezll, in Germany ; with Olivarius, 
in Denmark ; with Wadstiorn, in Sweden ; with Peter 
Paulus, in Holland ; with Avendano, in Spain ; and with 
the Abbé Pierre Tamburini, in Italy I " 

His voice rose as he ran through the names of his 
correspondents among the lovers of the African race, 
and he terminated his speech with the contemptuous 
remark, " But after all, there are no true philosophers 

For the third time M. de Blanchelande asked if any 
one had anything further to propose. 

" Your Excellency, " cried one, " let us embark on 
board the 'Leopard, ' which lies at anchor off the quay. " 

" Let us put a price on the head of Bouckmarm, " ex- 
claimed another. 

" Send a report of what has taken place to the Gov- 
ernor of Jamaica, " suggested a third. 

" A good idea, so that he may again send us the ironical 
help of five hundred muskets ! " sneered a member of 
the Provincial Assembly. " Your Excellency, let us 
send the news to France, and wait for a reply. " 

" Wait ! a likely thing indeed, " exclaimed M. de 
Eouvray ; " and do you think that the blacks will wait, 
eh ? And the flames that encircle our town, do you 
think that they will wait? Your Excellency, let the 
tocsin be sounded, and send dragoons and grenadiers in 
search of the main body of the rebels. Form a camp in 
the eastern division of the island ; plant military posts 
at Trou and at Vallieres. I will take charge of the plain 
of Dauphin ; but let us lose no more time, for the mo- 
ment for action has arrived. " 

The bold and energetic speech of the veteran soldier 


hushed all differences of opinion. The general had acted 
wisely. That secret knowledge which every one pos- 
sesses, most conducive to his own interests, caused all 
to support the proposal of General de Eouvray; and 
while the governor with a warm clasp of the hand 
showed his old friend that his counsels had been appre- 
ciated, though they had been given in rather a dictatorial 
manner, the colonists urged for the immediate carrying 
out of the proposals. 

I seized the opportunity to obtain from M. de Blanche- 
lande the permission that I so ardently desired, and 
leaving the room, mustered my company in order to 
return to Acul, — though, with the exception of myself, 
all were worn out with the fatigue of their late march. 


DAY began to break as I entered the market-place of 
the town, and began to rouse up the soldiers, who 
were lying about in all directions wrapped in their 
cloaks, and mingled pell-mell with the Eed and Yellow 
Dragoons, fugitives from the country, cattle bellowing, 
and property of every description sent in for security by 
the planters. In the midst of all this confusion I began 
to pick out my men, when I saw a private in the Yellow 
Dragoons, covered with dust and perspiration, ride up at 
full speed. I hastened to meet him ; and in a few broken 
words he informed me that my fears were realized, — 
that the insurrection had spread to Acul, and that the 
negroes were besieging Fort Galifet, in which the plan- 
ters and the militia had taken refuge. I must tell you 
that this fort was by no means a strong one, for in St. 
Domingo they dignify the slightest earthwork with the 
name of fort. 

There was not a moment to be lost. I mounted as 
many of my soldiers as I could procure horses for, and 
taking the dragoon as a guide, I reached my uncle's 
plantation about ten o'clock. I scarcely cast a glance at 
the enormous estate, which was nothing but a sea of 
flame, over which hovered huge clouds of smoke, through 
which every now and then the wind bore trunks of trees 
covered with sparks. A terrible rustling and crackling 
sound seemed to reply to the distant yells of the negroes 
which we now began to hear, though we could not as yet 
see them. The destruction of all this wealth, which would 


eventually have become mine, did not cause me a mo« 
ment's regret. All I thought of was the safety of Marie : 
what mattered anything else in the world to me ? I 
knew that she had taken refuge in the fort, and I prayed 
to God that I might arrive in time to rescue her. This 
hope sustained me through all the anxiety I felt, and 
gave me the strength and courage of a lion. 

At length a turn in the road permitted us to see the 
fort. The tricolour yet floated on its walls, and a well- 
sustained fire was kept up by the garrison. I uttered a 
shout of joy. " Gallop, spur on ! " said I to my men, 
and redoubling our pace we dashed across the fields in 
the direction of the scene of action. Near the fort I 
could see my uncle's house ; the doors and windows were 
dashed in, but the walls still stood, and shone red with 
the reflected glare of the flames, which owing to the 
wind being in a contrary direction, had not yet reached 
the building. A crowd of the insurgents had taken pos- 
session of the house, and showed themselves at the win- 
dows and on the roof. I could see the glare of torches 
and the gleam, of pikes and axes, while a brisk fire of 
musketry was kept up on the fort. Another strong body 
of negroes had placed ladders against the walls of the 
fort and strove to take it by assault, though many fell 
under the well-directed fire of the defenders. These 
black men, always returning to the charge after each 
repulse, looked like a swarm of ants endeavouring to 
scale the shell of a tortoise, and shaken off by each 
movement of the sluggish reptile. 

We reached the outworks of the fort, our eyes fixed 
upon the banner which still floated above it. I called 
upon my men to remember that their wives and children 
were shut up within those walls, and urged them to fly 
to their rescue. A general cheer was the reply, and 
forming column I was on the point of giving the order 


to charge, when a loud yell was heard ; a cloud of smoke 
enveloped the fort and for a time concealed it from our 
sight; a roar was heard like that of a furnace in full 
blast, and as the smoke cleared away we saw a red flag 
floating proudly above the dismantled walls. All was 
over. Tort Galifet was in the hands of the insurgents. 


T CANNOT tell you what my feelings were at this ter- 
-*■ rible spectacle. The fort was taken, its defenders 
slain, and twenty families massacred ; but I confess, to 
my shame that I thought not of this. Marie was lost to 
me, — lost, after having been made mine but a few brief 
hours before ; lost, perhaps, through my fault, for had I 
not obeyed the orders of my uncle in going to Cap I should 
have been by her side to defend her, or at least to die 
with her. These thoughts raised my grief to madness, 
for my despair was born of remorse. 

However, my men were maddened at the sight. With 
a shout of " Eevenge ! " with sabres between their teeth 
and pistols in either hand, they burst into the ranks of 
the victorious insurgents. Although far superior in 
numbers, the negroes fled at their approach; but we 
could see them on our right and left, before and behind 
us, slaughtering the colonists, and casting fuel on the 
flames. Our rage was increased by their cowardly 

Thaddeus, covered with wounds, made his escape 
through a postern gate. " Captain, " said he, " your 
Pierrot is a sorcerer, — an obi as these infernal negroes 
call him; a devil, I say. We were holding our posi- 
tion, you were coming up fast ; all seemed saved, — 
when by some means, which I do not know, he pene- 
trated into the fort, and there was an end of us. As 
for your uncle and Madame — " 

Pierrot carrying off Marie. 


* Marie ! " interrupted I, " where is Marie ? " 

At this instant a tall black burst through a blazing 
fence, carrying in his arms a young woman who shrieked 
and struggled : it was Marie, and the negro was Pierrot ! 

"Traitor!" cried I, and fired my pistol at him; one 
of the rebels threw himself in the way, and fell dead. 

Pierrot turned, and addressed a few words tc me which 
I did not catch ; and then grasping his prey tighter, he 
dashed into a mass of burning sugar-canes. A moment 
afterwards a huge dog passed me, carrying in his mouth 
a cradle in which lay my uncle's youngest child. Trans- 
ported with rage, I fired my second pistol at him ; but 
it missed fire. 

Like a madman I followed on their tracks; but my 
night march, the hours that I had spent without taking 
rest or food, my fears for Marie, and the sudden fall 
from the height of happiness to the depth of misery, 
had worn me out. After a few steps I staggered, a cloud 
seemed to come over me, and I fell senseless. 


WHEN I recovered my senses I found myself in my 
uncle's ruined house, supported in the arms of 
my faithful Thaddeus, who gazed upon me with an ex- 
pression of the deepest anxiety. " Victory ! " exclaimed 
he, as he felt my pulse begin to beat ; " victory ! the 
negroes are in full retreat and my captain has come to 
life again ! " 

I interrupted his exclamations of joy by putting the 
only question in which I had any interest : " Where is 
Marie ? " I had not yet collected my scattered ideas : I 
felt my misfortune without the recollection of it. 

At my question Thaddeus hung his head. Then my 
memory returned to me, and like a hideous dream I re- 
called once more the terrible nuptial day, and the tall 
negro bearing away Marie through the flames. The re- 
bellion which had broken out in the colony caused the 
whites to look on the blacks as their mortal enemies, 
and made me see in Pierrot — the good, the generous 
and the devoted, who owed his life three times to me — 
a monster of ingratitude and a rival. The carrying off 
my wife on the very night of our nuptials proved too 
plainly to me what I had at first only suspected ; and I 
now knew that the singer of the wood was the wretch 
who had torn my wife from me. In a few hours how 
great a change had taken place! 

Thaddeus told me that he had vainly nursued Pierrot 
a& his dog when the negroes, in spite of their numbers 


retired ; and that the destruction of my uncle's property 
still continued, without the possibility of its being 
arrested. I asked what had become of my uncle. He 
took my hand in silence and led me to a bed, the cur- 
tains of which he drew. My unhappy uncle was there, 
stretched upon his blood-stained couch, with a dagger 
driven deeply into his heart. By the tranquil expres- 
sion of his face it was easy to see that the blow had 
been struck during his sleep. 

The bed of the dwarf Habibrah, who always slept at 
the foot of his master's couch, was also profusely stained 
with gore, and the same crimson traces could be seen 
upon the laced coat of the poor fool, cast upon the floor 
a few paces from the bed. I did not hesitate for a mo- 
ment in believing that the dwarf had died a victim to 
his affection for my uncle, and that he had been mur- 
dered by his comrades, perhaps in the effort to defend 
his master. I reproached myself bitterly for the preju- 
dice which had caused me to form so erroneous an esti- 
mate of the characters of Pierrot and Habibrah ; and of 
the tears I shed at the tragic fate of my uncle, some 
were dedicated to the end of the faithful fool. By my 
orders his body was carefully searched for, but all in 
vain ; and I imagined that the negroes had cast the body 
into the flames. I gave instructions that in the funeral 
service over my uncle's remains prayers should be said 
for the repose of the soul of the devoted Habibrah. 


F OUT GALIFET had been destroyed, our house was in 
ruins; it was useless to linger there any longer, 
so that evening I returned to Cap. On my arrival there 
I was seized with a severe fever. The effort that I had 
made to overcome my despair had been too violent ; the 
spring had been bent too far and had snapped. Delirium 
came on. My broken hopes, my profound love, my lost 
future, and, above all, the torments of jealousy made my 
brain reel. It seemed as if fire flowed in my veins ; my 
head seemed ready to burst, and my bosom was filled 
with rage. I pictured to myself Marie in the arms of 
another lover, subject to the power of a master, of a 
slave, of Pierrot ! They told me afterwards that I sprang 
from my bed, and that it took six men to prevent me 
from dashing out my brains against the wall. Why did 
I not die then ? 

The crisis, however, passed. The doctors, the care 
and attention of Thaddeus, and the latent powers of 
youth conquered the malady : would that it had not 
done so ! At the end of ten days I was sufficiently re- 
covered to lay aside grief, and to live for vengeance. 

Hardly arrived at a state of convalescence, I went to 
M. de Blanchelande, and asked for employment. At 
first he wished to give me the command of some forti- 
fied post, but I begged him to attach me to one of the 
flying columns, which from time to time were sent out 
to sweep those districts in which the insurgents had 


congregated. Cap had been hastily pat in a position 
of defence, for the revolt had made terrible progress, 
and the negroes of Port au Prince had begun to show 
symptoms of disaffection. Biassou was in command of 
the insurgents at Lumbé, Dondon, and Acul ; Jean 
François had proclaimed himself generalissimo of the 
rebels of Maribarou; Bouckmann, whose tragic fate 
afterwards gave him a certain celebrity, with his bri- 
gands ravaged the plains of Limonade; and lastly, the 
bands of Morne-Rouge had elected for their chief a negrc 
called Bug-Jargal. 

If report was to be believed, the disposition of this 
man contrasted very favourably with the ferocity of the 
other chiefs. While Bouckmann and Biassou invented 
a thousand different methods of death for such prisoners 
as fell into their hands, Bug-Jargal was always ready to 
supply them with the means of quitting the island. M. 
Colas de Marjue and eight other distinguished colonists 
were by his orders released from the terrible death of 
the wheel to which Bouckmann had condemned them; 
and many other instances of his humanity were cited, 
which I have not time to repeat. 

My hoped-for vengeance, however, still appeared to 
be far removed. I could hear nothing of Pierrot. The 
insurgents commanded by Biassou continued to give us 
trouble at Cap ; they had once even endeavoured to take 
position on a hill that commanded the town, and had 
only been dislodged by the battery from the citadel be- 
ing directed upon them. The governor had therefore 
determined to drive them into the interior of the island. 
The militia of Acul, of Lumbé, of Ouanaminte, and of 
Maribarou, joined with the regiment of Cap and the 
Red and Yellow Dragoons, formed one army of attack ; 
while the corps of volunteers under the command of 
the merchant Poncignon, with the militia of Dondon 


and Quartier-Dauphin, composed the garrison of the 

The governor desired first to free himself from Bug- 
Jargal, whose incursions kept the garrison constantly 
on the alert; and he sent against him the militia of 
Ouanaminte and a battalion of the regiment of Cap. 
Two days afterwards the expedition returned, having 
sustained a severe defeat at the hands of Bug-Jargal. 
The governor, however, determined to persevere, and a 
fresh column was sent out with fifty of the Yellow Dra- 
goons and four hundred of the militia of Maribarou. 
This second expedition met with even less success than 
the first. Thaddeus, who had taken part in it, was in 
a violent fury, and upon his return vowed vengeance 
against the rebel chief Bug-Jargal. 

[A tear glistened in the eyes of D'Auverney; he 

crossed his arms on his breast, and appeared to be for 

a few moments plunged in a melancholy reverie. At 
length he continued.] 


THE news had reached us that Bug-Jargal had left 
Morne-Kouge, and was moving through the moun» 
tains to effect a junction with the troops of Biassou, 
The governor could not conceal his delight. " We have 
them ! " cried he, rubbing his hands. " They are in our 
power ! " 

By the next morning the colonial forces had marched 
some four miles to the front of Cap. At our approach 
the insurgents hastily retired from the positions which 
they had occupied at Port-Mayat and Fort Galifet, and 
in which they had planted siege guns that they had cap- 
tured in one of the batteries on the coast. The governor 
was triumphant, and by his orders we continued our 
advance. As we passed through the arid plains and the 
ruined plantations, many a one cast an eager glance in 
search of the spot which was once his home ; but in too 
many cases the foot of the destroyer had left no traces 
behind. Sometimes our march was interrupted, by the 
conflagration having spread from the lands under culti- 
vation to the virgin forests. 

In these regions, where the land is untilled and the 
vegetation abundant, the burning of a forest is accom- 
panied with many strange phenomena. Ear off, long 
before the eye can detect the cause, a sound is heard 
like the rush of a cataract over opposing rocks ; the 
trunks of the trees flame out with a sudden crash, the 
branches crackle, and the roots beneath the soil all con- 


tribute to the extraordinary uproar. The lakes and the 
marshes in the interior of the forests boil with the heat. 
The hoarse roar of the coming flame stills the air, caus- 
ing a dull sound, sometimes increasing and sometimes 
diminishing in intensity as the conflagration sweeps on 
or recedes. Occasionally a glimpse can be caught of a 
clump of trees surrounded by a belt of fire, but as yet 
untouched by the flames ; then a narrow streak of fire 
curls round the stems, and in another instant the whole 
becomes one mass of gold-coloured fire. Then uprises a 
column of smoke, driven here and there by the breeze ; 
it takes a thousand fantastic forms, — spreads itself out, 
diminishes in an instant ; at one moment it is gone, in 
another it returns with greater density; then all be- 
comes a thick black cloud, with a fringe of sparks , a 
terrible sound is heard, the sparks disappear, and the 
smoke ascends, disappearing at last in a mass of red 
ashes, which sink down slowly upon the blackened 


ON the evening of the third day of our march we en- 
tered the ravines of Grande-Eiviere ; we calculated 
that the negro army was some twenty leagues off in the 

We pitched our camp on a low hill, which appeared 
to have been used for the same purpose before, as the 
grass had been trodden down and the brushwood cut 
away. It was not a judicious position in a strategical 
point of view, but we deemed ourselves perfectly secure 
from attack. The hill was commanded on all sides by 
steep mountains clothed with thick forests, — their 
precipitous sides having given these mountains the 
name of the Dompte-Mulâtre. The Grande-Eiviere 
flowed behind our camp, which being confined within 
steep banks was just about here very deep and rapid. 
Both sides of the river were hidden with thickets, 
through which nothing could be seen. The waters of 
the stream itself were frequently concealed by masses of 
creeping plants, hanging from the branche* of the flow- 
ering maples which had sprung up at intervals in the 
jungle, crossing and recrossing the stream, and forming 
a tangled net-work of living verdure. From the heights 
of the adjacent hills this mass of verdure appeared like 
a meadow still fresh with dew, while every now and then 
a dull splash could be heard as a teal plunged through 
the flower-decked curtain, and showed in which direc- 
tion the river lay. By degrees the sun ceased to gild 


the crested peaks of the distant mountains of Dondon; 
little by little darkness spread its mantle over the camp, 
and the silence was only broken by the cry of the night- 
bird, or by the measured tread of the sentinels. 

Suddenly the dreaded war-songs of " Oua-Nassé " and 
of " The Camp of the Great Meadow " were heard above 
our heads ; the palms, the acomas, and the cedars, which 
crowned the summits of the rocks, burst into flames, 
and the lurid light of the conflagration showed us 
numerous bands of negroes and mulattoes, whose copper- 
hued skins glowed red in the firelight upon the neigh- 
bouring hills. It was the army of Biassou. 

The danger was imminent. The officers, aroused 
from their sleep, endeavoured to rally their men. The 
drum beat the " Assembly, " while the bugles sounded 
the " Alarm. " Our men fell in hurriedly and in confu- 
sion ; but the insurgents, instead of taking advantage of 
our disorder, remained motionless, gazing upon us, and 
continuing their song of " Oua-Nassé. " 

A gigantic negro appeared alone on one of the peaks 
that overhung the Grande- Eiviere ; a flame-coloured 
plume floated on his head, and he held an axe in his 
right hand and a blood-red banner in his left. I recog- 
nized Pierrot. Had a carbine been within my reach I 
should have fired at him, cowardly although the act 
might have been. The negro repeated the chorus of 
" Oua-Nassé, " planted his standard on the highest portion 
of the rock, hurled his axe into the midst of our ranks, 
and plunged into the stream. A feeling of regret seized 
me ; I had hoped to have slain him with my own hand. 

Then the negroes began to hurl huge masses of rocks 
upon us, while showers of bullets and flights of arrows 
were poured upon our camp. Our soldiers, maddened 
at being unable to reach their adversaries, fell on all 
sides, crushed by the rocks, riddled with bullets, and 

bug-jargal,, 73 

transfixed by arrows. The army was rapidly falling 
into disorder. Suddenly a terrible noise came from the 
centre of the stream. 

The Yellow Dragoons, who had suffered most from 
the shower of rocks, had conceived the idea of taking 
refuge under the thick roof of creepers which grew over 
the river. It was Thaddeus who had at first discovered 
this — 

Here the narrative was suddenly interrupted. 


MORE than a quarter of an hour had elapsed since 
Thaddeus, his arm in a sling, had glided into the 
tent without any of the listeners noticing his arrival, 
and taking up his position in a remote corner had by 
occasional gestures expressed the interest that he took 
in his captain's narrative; but at last, considering that 
this direct allusion to himself ought not to be permitted 
to pass without some acknowledgment on his part, he 
stammered out, — 

" You are too good, Captain ! " 

A general burst of laughter followed this speech, and 
D'Auverney, turning towards him, exclaimed severely: 
" What, Thaddeus, you here ? And your arm ? " 

On being addressed in so unaccustomed a tone, the 
features of the old soldier grew dark ; he quivered, and 
threw back his head, as though to restrain the tears 
which seemed to struggle to his eyes. " I never 
thought, " said he, in a low voice, " that you, Captain, 
could have omitted to say thou when speaking to your 
old sergeant. " 

" Pardon me, old friend, " answered the captain, 
quickly ; " I hardly knew what I said. Thou wilt par- 
don me, wilt thou not ? " 

The tears sprang to the sergeant's eyes in spite of his 
efforts to repress them. " It is the third time, " re- 
marked he, — " but these are tears of joy. " 

Peace was made, and a short silence ensued. 

" But tell me, Thaddeus, why hast thou quitted the 
hospital to come here? " asked D'Auverney, gently. 


** It was — with your permission, Captain — to ask if 
I should put the laced saddle-cloth on the charger for 
to-morrow. " 

Henri laughed. " You would have been wiser, Thad- 
deus, to have asked the surgeon-major if you should put 
two more pieces of lint on your arm, " said he. 

" Or to ask, " continued Paschal, " if you might take a 
glass of wine to refresh yourself. At any rate, here is 
some brandy ; taste it, — it will do you good, my brave 
sergeant. " 

Thaddeus advanced, saluted, and apologizing for tak- 
ing the glass with his left hand, emptied it to the health 
of the assembled company : " You had got, Captain, to 
the moment when — yes, I remember, it was I who pro- 
posed to take shelter under the creepers, to prevent our 
men being smashed by the rocks. Our officer, who did 
not know how to swim, was afraid of being drowned, 
and, as was natural, was dead against it until he saw 
— with your permission, gentlemen — a great rock fall 
on the creepers without being able to get through them. 
'It is better to die like Pharaoh than like Saint Stephen, ' 
said he ; ' for we are not saints, and Pharaoh was a sol- 
dier like ourselves. ' The officer was a learned man, 
you see. And so he agreed to my proposal, on the con- 
dition that I should first try the experiment myself. 
Off I went; I slid down the bank and caught hold of 
the roof of the creepers, when all of a sudden some one 
took a pull at my legs. I struggled, I shouted for help, 
and in a minute I received half-a-dozen sabre-cuts. 
Down came the dragoons to help me, and there was a 
nice little skirmish under the creepers. The blacks of 
Morne-Eouge had hidden themselves there, never for a 
moment thinking that we should fall right on the top 
of them. This was not the right time for fishing, I can 
tell you. We fought, we swore, we shouted. They 


had nothing particular on, and were able to move about 
in the water more easily than we were ; but, on the 
other hand, our sabres had less to cut through. We 
swam with one hand and fought with the other. Those 
who could not swim, like my captain, hung on to the 
creepers, while the negroes pulled them by the legs. 

" In the midst of the hullabaloo I saw a big negro 
fighting like Beelzebub against five or six of ours. I 
swam up to him, and recognized Pierrot, otherwise 
called Bug — But I mustn't tell that yet, must I, Cap- 
tain ? Since the capture of the fort I owed him a grudge, 
so I took him hard and fast by the throat ; he was go- 
ing to rid himself of me by a thrust of his dagger, when 
he recognized me, and gave himself up at once. That 
was very unfortunate, was it not, Captain ? For if he 
had not surrendered, he would not — But you will 
know that later on, eh ? When the blacks saw that he 
was taken they made a rush at me to get him off; when 
Pierrot, seeing no doubt that they would all lose their 
lives, said some gibberish or other, and in the twinkling 
of an eye they plunged into the water, and were out of 
sight in a moment. This fight in the water would have 
been pleasant enough if I had not lost a finger and 
wetted ten cartridges, and if the poor man — but it was 
to be, was it not, Captain ? " 

And the sergeant respectfully placed the back of his 
hand to his forage-cap, and then raised it to heaven 
with the air of an inspired prophet. 

D'Auverney was violently agitated. " Yes, w cried he, 
" thou art right, my old Thaddeus ; that night was a 
fatal night for me ! " 

He would have fallen into one of his usual reveries 
had they not urgently pressed him to conclude his story. 
After a while he continued. 


WHILE the scene which Thaddeus has just de- 
scribed was passing behind the camp, I had 
succeeded, by aid of the brushwood, with some of my 
men in climbing the opposite hills until we had reached 
a point called Peacock Peak, from the brilliant tints of 
the mica which coated the surface of the rock. 

From this position, which was opposite a rock cov- 
ered with negroes, we opened a withering fire. The in- 
surgents, who were not so well armed as we were, could 
not reply warmly to our volleys, and in a short time be- 
gan to grow discouraged. We redoubled our efforts, and 
our enemies soon evacuated the neighbouring rocks, first 
hurling the dead bodies of their comrades upon our 
army, the greater proportion of which was still drawn 
up on the hill. Then we cut down several trees, and 
binding the trunks together with fibres of the palm, we 
improvised a bridge, and by it crossed over to the de- 
serted positions of the enemy, and thus managed to 
secure a good post of vantage. This operation com- 
pletely quenched the courage of the rebels. Our fire 
continued. Shouts of grief arose from them, in which 
the name of Bug-Jargal was frequently repeated. Many 
negroes of the army of Morne-Eouge appeared on the 
rock upon which the blood-red banner still floated ; they 
prostrated themselves before it, tore it from its resting- 
place, and then precipitated it and themselves into the 
depths of the Grande-Eiviere. This seemed to signify 
that their chief was either killed or a prisoner. 


Our confidence had now risen to such a pitch that I 
resolved to drive them from their last position at the 
point of the bayonet, and at the head of my men I 
dashed into the midst of the negroes. The soldiers were 
about to follow me across the temporary bridge that I 
had caused to be thrown from peak to peak, when one 
of the rebels with a blow of his axe broke the bridge to 
atoms, and the ruins fell into the abyss with a terrible 

I turned my head : in a moment I was surrounded, 
and seized by six or seven negroes, who disarmed me in 
a moment. I struggled like a lion, but they bound me 
with cords made of bark, heedless of the hail of bullets 
that my soldiers poured upon them. My despair was 
somewhat soothed by the cries of victory which I heard 
from our men, and I soon saw the negroes and mulattoes 
ascending the steep sides of the rocks with all the pre- 
cipitation of fear, uttering cries of terror. 

My captors followed their example. The strongest 
among them placed me on their shoulders, and carried 
me in the direction of the forest, leaping from rock to 
rock with the agility of wild goats. The flames soon 
ceased to light the scene, and it was by the pale rays of 
the moon that we pursued our course. 


AFTER passing through jungles and crossing many a 
torrent, we arrived in a valley situated in the 
higher part of the hills, of a singularly wild and sav- 
age appearance. The spot was absolutely unknown to 
me. The valley was situated in the heart of the hills, 
in what is called the "double mountains." It was a 
large green plain, imprisoned by walls of bare rock, and 
dotted with clumps of pines and palm trees. The cold, 
which at this height is very severe, was increased by 
the morning air, the day having just commenced to 
break ; but the valley was still plunged in darkness, 
and was only lighted by flashes from the negroes' fires. 
Evidently this spot was their headquarters ; the shat- 
tered remains of their army had begun to reassemble, 
and every now and then bands of negroes and mulattoes 
arrived, uttering groans of distress and cries of rage. 
New fires were speedily lighted, and the camp began to 
increase in size. 

The negro whose prisoner I was had placed me at the 
foot of an oak, whence I surveyed this strange spectacle 
with entire carelessness. The black had bound me with 
his belt to the trunk of the tree, against which I was 
leaning, and carefully tightening the knots in the cords 
which impeded my movements, he placed on my head 
his own red woollen cap, as if to indicate that I was his 
property ; and after making sure that I could not escape 
or be carried off by others, he was preparing to leave me, 


when I determined to address him ; and speaking in the 
créole dialect, I asked him if he belonged to the band of 
Dondon, or of Morne-Eouge. He stopped at once, and 
in a tone of pride replied, " Morne-Eouge. " Then an 
idea entered my head. I had often heard of the gener- 
osity of the chief Bug-Jargal; and though I had made 
up my mind that death would soon end all my troubles, 
the thought of the tortures that would inevitably pre- 
cede it should I fall into the hands of Biassou filled me 
with horror. All I wanted was to be put to death with- 
out torment. It was perhaps a weakness, but I believe 
that the mind of man ever revolts at such a death. I 
thought then that if I could be taken from Biassou, 
Bug-J.argal might give me what I desired, — a soldier's 
death. I therefore asked the negro of Morne-Eouge to 
lead me to Bug-Jargal. 

He started : " Bug-Jargal ! " he repeated, striking on 
his forehead in anguish ; then, as if rage had suddenly 
overtaken him, he shook his fist, and shouting, " Bias- 
sou, Biassou ! " he left me hastily. 

The mingled rage and grief of the negro recalled to 
my mind the events of the day, and the certainty we 
had acquired of either the death or capture of the chief 
of the band of Morne-Eouge. I felt that all hope was 
over, and resigned myself to the threatened vengeance 
of Biassou. 


A GROUP of négresses came near the tree to which 
I was fastened, and lit a fire. By the numerous 
bracelets of blue, red, and violet glass which ornamented 
their arms and ankles ; by the rings which weighed 
down their ears and adorned their toes and fingers ; by 
the amulets on their bosoms and the collar of charms 
suspended round their necks ; by the aprons of varie- 
gated feathers which were their sole coverings, — I at 
once recognized them as griotes. You are perhaps igno- 
rant that among the African blacks there exists a certain 
class with a rude talent for poetry and improvisation, 
which approaches closely to madness. These unhappy 
creatures, wandering from one African kingdom to an- 
other, are in these barbarian countries looked upon in 
the same light as the minstrels of England, the minne- 
singers of Germany, and the troubadours of France. 
They are called " griots, " and their wives " griotes. n 
The griotes accompany the barbaric songs of their hus- 
bands with lascivious dances, and form a grotesque 
parody on the nautch girls of India and the almes of 

It was a group of these women who came and sat 
down near me, with their legs crossed under them ac- 
cording to their custom, and their hideous faces lighted 
up by the red light of a fire of withered branches. 
When they had formed a complete circle they all joined 
hands, and the eldest, who had a heron's plume stuck 


in her hair, began to exclaim, " Ouanga !" I at once 
understood that they were going through one of their 
performances of pretended witchcraft. Then the leader 
of the band, after a moment's silence, plucked a lock 
of hair from her head and threw it into the fire, crying 
out these words, " Male o guiab, " which in the jargon 
of the créoles means, " I shall go to the devil. " All 
the griotes imitated their leader, and throwing locks of 
their hair in the fire, repeated gravely, " Male o guiab. " 
This strange invocation, and the extraordinary grimaces 
that accompanied it, caused me to burst into one of 
those hysterical fits of laughter which so often seize on 
one even at the most serious moments. It was in vain 
that I endeavoured to restrain it, — it would have vent ; 
and this laugh, which escaped from so sad a heart, 
brought about a gloomy and terrifying scene. 

Disturbed in their incantations, the négresses sprang 
to their feet. Until then they had not noticed me, but 
now they rushed close up to me, screaming " Blanco, 
Blanco ! " I have never seen so hideous a collection of 
faces, contorted as they were with passion, their white 
teeth gleaming, and their eyes almost starting from their 
heads. They were, I believe, about to tear me in pieces, 
when the old woman with the heron's plume on her 
head stopped them with a sign of her hand, and ex- 
claimed seven times, " Zoté cordé 1 " (" Do you agree ? ") 
The wretched creatures stopped at once, and to my sur- 
prise tore off their feather aprons, which they flung 
upon the ground, and commenced the lascivious dance 
which the negroes call " La chica. " 

This dance, which should only consist of attitudes 
and movements expressive of gaiety and pleasure, as- 
sumed a very different complexion when performed by 
these naked sorceresses. In turn, each of them would 
place her face close to mine, and with a frightful 


expression of countenance would detail the horrible pun- 
ishment that awaited the white man who had profaned 
the mysteries of their Ouanga. I recollected that sav- 
age nations had a custom of dancing round the victims 
that they were about to sacrifice, and I patiently awaited 
the conclusion of the performance which I knew would 
be sealed with my blood ; and yet I could not repress a 
shudder as I perceived each griote, in strict unison with 
the time, thrust into the fire the point of a sabre, the 
blade of an axe, a long sail-maker's needle, a pair of 
pincers, and the teeth of a saw. 

The dance was approaching its conclusion, and the 
instruments of torture were glowing red with heat. At 
a signal from the old woman, each negress in turn with- 
drew an implement from the fire, while those who had 
none furnished themselves with a blazing stick. Then 
I understood clearly what my punishment was to be, 
and that in each of the dancers I should find an execu- 
tioner. Again the word of command was given, and 
the last figure of the dance was commenced. I closed 
my eyes that I might not see the frantic evolutions of 
these female demons, who in measured cadence clashed 
the red-hot weapons over their heads. A dull, clinking 
sound followed, while the sparks flew out in myriads. 
I waited, nerving myself for the moment when I should 
feel my flesh quiver in agony, my bones calcine, and 
my muscles writhe under the burning tortures of the 
nippers and the saws. It was an awful moment. For- 
tunately it did not last long. 

In the distance I heard the voice of the negro whose 
prisoner I was, shouting, " Que haceis, mujeres, ne 
demonio, que haceis alii, devais mi prisonero ? " I 
opened my eyes again; it was already broad daylight. 
The negro hurried towards me, gesticulating angrily. 
The griotes paused, but they seemed less influenced 


by the threats of my captor than by the presence of 
a strange-looking person by whom the negro was 

It was a very stout and very short man, — a species 
of dwarf, — whose face was entirely concealed by a white 
veil, pierced with three holes for the eyes and mouth. 
The veil hung down to his shoulders, and displayed a 
hairy, copper-hued breast, upon which was hung by a 
golden chain the mutilated sun of a monstrance. The 
cross-hilt of a heavy dagger peeped from a scarlet belt, 
which also supported a kind of petticoat striped with 
green, yellow, and black, the hem of which hung down 
to his large and ill-shaped feet. His arms, like his 
breast, were bare ; he carried a white staff, and a rosary 
of amber beads was suspended from his belt, in close 
proximity to the handle of his dagger. His head was 
surmounted with a pointed cap adorned with bells ; and 
when he came close I was not surprised in recognizing 
in it the gorra of Habibrah, and among the hieroglyphics 
with which it was covered I could see many spots of 
gore : without doubt, it was the blood of the faithful 
fool. These blood-stains gave me fresh proofs of his 
death, and awakened in me once again a fresh feeling of 
regret for his loss. 

Directly the griotes recognized the wearer of Habi- 
brah' s cap, they cried out all at once. " The Obi ! " and 
prostrated themselves before him. I guessed at once 
that this was a sorcerer attached to Biassou's force. 

" Basta, basta " (" enough "), said he, in a grave and 
solemn voice, as he came close up to them. " Devais el 
prisonero de Biassou. " (" Let the prisoner be taken to 
Biassou. ") 

All the négresses leaped to their feet and cast their 
implements of torture on one side, put on their aprons, 
and at a gesture of the Obi fled like a cloud of grass- 


At this instant the glance of the Obi fell upon me. 
He started back a pace, and half waved his white staff 
in the direction of the retiring griotes, as if he wished 
to recall them ; then muttering between his teeth the 
word " Maldicho " (" accursed "), he whispered a few 
words in the ear of the negro, and crossing his arms 
retired slowly, apparently buried in deep thought. 


MY captor informed me that Biassou had asked to 
see me, and that in an hour I should be brought 
before him. This, I calculated, gave me another hour 
in which to live. Until that time had elapsed, I al- 
lowed my glances to wander over the rebel camp, the 
singular appearance of which the daylight permitted me 
to observe. 

Had I been in any other position, I should have 
laughed heartily at the ostentatious vanity of the ne- 
groes, who were nearly all decked out in fragments of 
clerical and military dress, the spoils of their victims. 
The greater portion of these ornaments were not new, 
consisting of torn and blood-stained rags. A gorget 
could often be seen shining over a stole, while an epau- 
let looked strange when contrasted with a chasuble. To 
make amends for former years of toil, the negroes now 
maintained a state of utter inaction : some of them slept 
exposed to the rays of the sun, their heads close to a 
burning fire; others, with eyes that were sometimes full 
of listlessness, and at others blazed with fury, sat chant- 
ing a monotonous air at the doors of their ajoupas, — a 
species of hut with conical roofs somewhat resembling 
our artillery tents, but thatched with palm or banana 
leaves. Their black or copper-coloured wives, aided by 
the negro children, prepared the food for the fighting- 
men. I could see them stirring up with long forks, 
ignames, bananas, yams, peas, cocus and maize, and 


other vegetables indigenous to the country, which were 
boiling with joints of pork, turtle, and dog in the great 
boilers stolen from the dwellings of the planters. In 
the distance, on the outskirts of the camp, the griots and 
griotes formed large circles round the fires, and the wind 
every now and then brought to my ears strange frag- 
ments of their barbaric songs, mingled with notes from 
their tambourines and guitars. A few videttes posted 
on the high ground watched over the headquarters of 
General Biassou, — the only defence of which in case of 
attack was a circle of wagons tilled with plunder and 
ammunition. These black sentries posted on the sum- 
mits of the granite pyramids, with which the valley 
bristled, turned about like the weathercocks in Gothic 
spires, and with all the strength of their lungs shouted 
one to the other the cry of " Nada, nada ! " (" Nothing, 
nothing!") which showed that the camp was in full 
security. Every now and then groups of negroes, in- 
spired by curiosity, collected round me, but all looked 
upon me with a threatening expression of countenance. 


AT length an escort of negro soldiers, very fairly 
equipped, arrived. The negro whose property I 
appeared to be unfastened me from the oak to which I 
was bound, and handed me over to the escort, receiving in 
exchange a bag full of piastres. As he lay upon the grass 
counting them with every appearance of delight, I was 
led away by the soldiers. My escort wore a uniform of 
coarse cloth, of a reddish-brown colour, with yellow 
facings ; their head-dress was a Spanish cap called a 
montera, ornamented with a large red cockade. Instead 
of a cartouche case, they had a species of game-bag slung 
at their sides. Their arms were a heavy musket, a 
sabre, and a dagger. I afterwards learned that these 
men formed the body-guard of Biassou. 

After a circuitous route through the rows of ajoupas 
which were scattered all over the place, I came to a 
cave which Nature had hollowed out in one of those 
masses of rock with which the meadow was full. A 
large curtain of some material from the looms of Thibet, 
which the negroes called katchmir, and which is remark- 
able less for the brilliancy of its colouring than for the 
softness of its material, concealed the interior of the 
cavern from the vulgar gaze. The entrance was guarded 
by a double line of negroes, dressed like those who had 
escorted me thither. 

After the countersign had been exchanged with the 
sentries who marched backwards and forwards before the 


cave, the commander of the escort raised the curtain 
sufficiently for me to enter, and then let it drop behind 
me. A copper lamp with six lights, hung by a chain 
from the roof of the grotto, cast a flickering light upon 
the damp walls. Between the ranks of mulatto soldiers 
I perceived a coloured man sitting upon a large block of 
mahogany, which was partially covered with a carpet 
made of parrots' feathers. His dress was of the most 
absurd kind. A splendid silk girdle, from which hung 
a cross of Saint Louis, held up a pair of common blue 
trousers, while a waistcoat of white linen which did not 
meet the waistband of the trousers completed the strange 
costume. He wore high boots, and a round hat with a 
red cockade, and epaulets, — one of gold with silver 
stars, like those worn by brigadiers ; while the other 
was of red-worsted, with two copper stars (which seemed 
to have been taken from a pair of spurs) fixed upon it, 
evidently to render it more worthy of its resplendent 
neighbour. A sabre and a pair of richly chased pistols 
lay by his side. Behind him were two white children 
dressed in the costume of slaves, bearing large fans of 
peacock feathers. 

Two squares of crimson velvet, which seemed to have 
been stolen from some church, were placed on either side 
of the mahogany block. One of these was occupied by 
the Obi who had rescued me from the frenzy of the 
griotes. He was seated with his legs crossed under him, 
holding in his hand his white wand, and not moving a 
muscle : he looked like a porcelain idol in a Chinese 
pagoda, but through the holes in his veil I could see his 
flashing eyes fixed steadfastly upon mine. 

Upon each side of the general were trophies of flags, 
banners, and pennons of all kinds. Among them I no- 
ticed the white flag with the lilies, the tricolour, and 
the banner of Spain ; the others were covered with fancy 


devices. I also perceived a large standard entirely black. 
At the end of the grotto, I saw a portrait of the mulatto 
Ogé who, together with his lieutenant Jean Charanne, 
had been broken on the wheel the year previous for the 
crime of rebellion. Twenty of his accomplices, blacks 
and mulattoes, suffered with him. In this painting Ogé, 
the son of a butcher at Cap, was represented in the uni- 
form of a lieutenant-colonel, and decorated with the 
star of Saint Louis and the Order of Merit of the Lion, 
which last he had purchased from the Prince of Limburg. 

The negro general into whose presence I had been 
introduced was short and of vulgar aspect, while his 
face showed a strange mixture of cunning and cruelty. 
After looking at me for some time in silence, with a 
bitter omen on his face, he said, — 

" I am Biassou. " 

I expected this, but I could not hear it from his 
mouth, distorted as it was by a cruel smile, without an 
inward trembling ; yet my face remained unchanged, 
and I made no reply. 

" Well, " continued he, in his bad French, " have they 
already empaled you, that you are unable to bend before 
Biassou, generalissimo of this conquered land, and brig- 
adier of his Most Catholic Majesty ? " (The rebel chiefs 
sometimes affected to be acting for the King of France, 
sometimes for the Republic, and at others for the King 
of Spain.) 

I crossed my arms upon my chest, and looked him 
firmly in the face. 

He again sneered. " Ho, ho ! " said he ; " me pareces 
hombre de buen corazon (" you seem a courageous man ") ; 
well, listen to my questions. Were you born in the 
island ? " 

" No, I am a Frenchman. * 

My calmness irritated him. " All the better; I see by 


your uniform that you are an officer. How old are 

u Twenty. " 

u When were you twenty ? " 

To this question, which aroused in me all the recollec- 
tion of my misery, I could not at first find words to re- 
ply. He repeated it imperiously. 

" The day upon which Leogri was hung, " answered I. 

An expression of rage passed over his face as he an- 
swered, " It is twenty-three days since Leogri was exe- 
cuted. Frenchman, when you meet him this evening 
you may tell him from me that you lived twenty -four 
days longer than he did. I will spare you for to-day ; I 
wish you to tell him of the liberty that his brethren 
have gained, and what you have seen at the headquar- 
ters of General Jean Biassou. " 

Then he ordered me to sit down in one corner between 
two of his guards, and with a motion of his hand to some 
of his men, who wore the uniform of aides-de-camp, he 
said, " Let the Assembly be sounded, that we may in- 
spect the whole of our troops ; and you, your reverence, " 
he added, turning to the Obi, " put on your priestly 
vestments, and perform for our army the holy sacrament 
of the Mass. " 

The Obi rose, bowed profoundly, and whispered a 
word or two in the general's ear. 

" What, " cried the latter, " no altar ! but never mind, 
the good Giu has no need of a magnificent temple for 
His worship. Gideon and Joshua adored Him before 
masses of rock ; let us do as they did. All that is re- 
quired is that the hearts should be true. No altar, you 
say ! why not make one of that great chest of sugar 
which we took yesterday from Dubussion's house?" 

This suggestion of Biassou was promptly carried into 
execution. In an instant the interior of the cave was 


arranged for a burlesque of the divine ceremony. A 
pyx and a monstrance stolen from the parish church of 
Acul were promptly produced (the very church in which 
my nuptials with Marie had been celebrated, and where 
we had received Heaven's blessing, which had so soon 
changed to a curse). The stolen chest of sugar was 
speedily made into an altar and covered with a white 
cloth, through which, however, the words " Dubussion 
and Company for Nantes " could be plainly perceived. 

When the sacred vessels had been placed on the altar, 
the Obi perceived that the crucifix was wanting. He 
drew his dagger, which had a cross handle, and stuck it 
into the wood of the case in front of the pyx. Then 
without removing his cap or veil, he threw the cope 
which had been stolen from the priest of Acul over his 
shoulders and bare chest, opened the silver clasps of the 
missal from which the prayers had been read on my ill- 
fated, marriage day, and turning towards Biassou, whose 
seat was a few paces from the altar, announced to him 
that all was ready. 

On a sign from the general the katchmir curtains were 
drawn aside, and the insurgent army was seen drawn 
up in close column before the entrance to the grotto. 
Biassou removed his hat and knelt before the altar. 

" On your knees ! " he cried, in a loud voice. 

" On your knees ! " repeated the commander of the 

The drums were beaten, and all the insurgents fell 
upon their knees. I alone refused to move, disgusted at 
this vile profanation about to be enacted under my very 
eyes ; but the two powerful mulattoes who guarded me 
pulled my seat from under me, and pressed heavily upon 
my shoulders, so that I fell on my knees, compelled to 
pay a semblance of respect to this parody of a religious 
ceremony. The Obi performed his duties with affected 


solemnity, while the two white pages of Biassou offi- 
ciated as deacon and sub-deacon. The insurgents, 
prostrated before the altar, assisted at the ceremony 
with the greatest enthusiasm, the general setting the 

At the moment of the exaltation of the host, the Obi 
raising in his hands the consecrated vessel exclaimed in 
his créole jargon, " Zoté coné bon Giu ; ce li mo fé zoté 
voer. Blan touyé li : touyé blan yo toute ! " (* You 
see your good God ; I am showing Him to you. The 
white men killed Him : kill all the whites ! ") 

At these words, pronounced in a loud voice, the tones 
of which had something in them familiar to my ear, all 
the rebels uttered a loud shout, and clashed their weap- 
ons together. Had it not been for Biassou 's influence, 
that hour would have been my last. To such atrocities 
may men be driven who use the dagger for a cross, and 
upon whose mind the most trivial event makes a deep 
and profound impression. 


AT the termination of the ceremony the Obi bowed 
respectfully to Biassou ; then the general rose 
and, addressing me in French, said, — 

" We are accused of having no religion. You see it 
is a falsehood, and that we are good Catholics. " 

I do not know whether he spoke ironically or in good 
faith. A few moments later he called for a glass bowl 
filled with grains of black maize ; on the top he threw 
some white maize, then he raised it high in his hand so 
that all the army might see it. 

" Brothers, " cried he, " you are the black maize ; your 
enemies are the white maize. " 

With these words he shook the bowl, and in an in- 
stant the white grains had disappeared beneath the 
black ; and, as though inspired, he cried out, " Where 
are the white now ? " 

The mountains re-echoed with the shouts with which 
the illustration of the general was received ; and Biassou 
continuing his harangue, mixed up French, créole dia- 
lect, and Spanish alternately : — 

" The season for temporizing has passed ; for a long 
time we have been as patient as the sheep to whose wool 
the whites compare our hair ; let us now be as implaca- 
ble as the panthers or the tigers of the countries from 
which they have torn us. Force alone can obtain for us 
our rights ; and everything can be obtained by those who 
use their force without pity. Saint Loup [Wolf] has 


two days in the year consecrated to him in the Grego- 
rian calendar, while the Paschal Lamb has but one. 
Am not I correct, your reverence ? " 

The Obi bowed in sign of corroboration.' 

" They have come, " continued Biassou, — " these ene- 
mies of ours have come as enemies of the regeneration 
of humanity ; these whites, these planters, these men of 
business, veritable devils vomited from the mouth of 
hell. They came in the insolence of their pride, in 
their fine dresses, their uniforms, their feathers, their 
magnificent arms ; they despised us because we were 
black and naked, in their overbearing haughtiness ; 
they thought that they could drive us before them as 
easily as these peacock feathers disperse the swarms of 
sandflies and mosquitoes. " 

As he uttered these concluding words, he snatched 
from the hands of his white slaves one of the large fans, 
and waved it over his head with a thousand eccentric 
gesticulations. Then he continued : — 

" But, my brethren, we burst upon them like flies 
upon a carcass ; they have fallen in their fine uniforms 
beneath the strokes of our naked arms, which they be- 
lieved to be without power, ignorant that good wood is 
the stronger when the bark is stripped off ; and now these 
accursed tyrants tremble, and are filled with fear. " 

A triumphant yell rose in answer to the general's 
speech, and all the army repeated, " They are filled with 
fear ! " 

" Blacks, Creoles, and Congos, " added Biassou. " ven- 
geance and liberty ! Mulattoes, do not be led away by 
the temptations of the white men ! Your fathers serve 
in their ranks, but your mothers are with us ; besides, ' O 
bermanos de mi alma ' (' brethren of my soul ') have 
they ever acted as fathers to you ? Have they not rather 
been cruel masters, and treated you as slaves, because you 


had the blood of your mothers in your veins ? While a 
miserable cotton garment covered your bodies scorched 
by the sun, your cruel fathers went about in straw hats 
and nankeen clothes on work-days, and in cloth and 
velvet on holidays and feasts. Curses be on their un- 
natural hearts ! But as the holy commandments forbid 
you to strike your father, abstain from doing so ; but in 
the day of battle what hinders you from turning to your 
comrade and saying, ' Touyé papa moé, ma touyé quena 
toué ! ' ('Kill my father, and I will kill yours I ') Ven- 
geance then, my brethren, and liberty for all men ! This 
cry has found an echo in every part of the island ; it has 
roused Tobago and Cuba. It was Bouckmann, a negro 
from Jamaica, the leader of the twenty-five fugitive 
slaves of the Blue Mountain, who raised the standard of 
revolt among us. A glorious victory was the first proof 
that he gave of his brotherhood with the negroes of St. 
Domingo. Let us follow his noble example, with an 
axe in one hand and a torch in the other. No mercy for 
the whites, no mercy for the planters ! let us massacre 
their families, and destroy their plantations ! Do not 
allow a tree to remain standing on their estates ; let us 
upturn the very earth itself that it may swallow up our 
white oppressors ! Courage then, friends and brethren ! 
we will fight them and sweep them from the face of the 
earth. We will conquer or die. As victors, we shall 
enjoy all the pleasures of life ; and if we fall, the saints 
are ready to receive us in heaven, where each warrior 
will receive a double ration of brandy and a silver 
piastre each day ! " 

This warlike discourse, which to you appears perfectly 
ridiculous, had a tremendous effect on the insurgents. 
It is true that Biassou's wild gesticulations, the manner 
in which his voice rose and fell, and the strange sneer 
which every now and then appeared on his lips, im- 


parted to his speech a strange amount of power and fas- 
cination. The skill with which he alluded to those 
points that would have the greatest weight with the 
negroes added a degree of force which told well with his 

I will not attempt to describe to you the outburst of 
determined enthusiasm which the harangue of Biassou 
roused among the rebels. There arose at once a discord- 
ant chorus of howls, yells, and shouts. Some beat their 
naked breasts, others dashed their clubs and sabres to- 
gether. Many threw themselves on their knees, and 
remained in that position as though in rapt ecstasy. 
The négresses tore their breasts and arms with their 
fish-bone combs. The sounds of drums, tomtoms, gui- 
tars, and tambourines were mingled with the discharge 
of firearms. It was a veritable witches' Sabbath. 

Biassou raised his hand, and as if by enchantment 
the tumult was stilled, and each negro returned to his 
place in the ranks in silence. The discipline which 
Biassou had imposed upon his equals by the exercise of 
his power of will struck me, I may say, with admira- 
tion. All the soldiers of the force seemed to exist only 
to obey the wishes of their chief, as the notes of the 
harpsichord under the fingers of the musician. 


f^HE spectacle of another example of the powers of 
■*■ fascination and deception now attracted my at- 
tention. This was the healing of the wounded. 

The Obi, who in the army performed the double func- 
tions of healer of souls and bodies, began his inspection 
of his patients. He had taken off his sacerdotal robes, 
and was seated before a large box in which he kept his 
drugs and instruments. He used the latter very rarely, 
but occasionally drew blood skilfully enough with a 
lancet made of fish-bone ; but he appeared to me to use 
the knife, which in his hands replaced the scalpel, rather 
clumsily. In most cases he contented himself with pre- 
scribing orange-flower water, or sarsaparilla, and a 
mouthful of old rum. His favourite remedy, however, 
and one which he said was an infallible panacea for 
all ills, was composed of three glasses of red wine, in 
which was some grated nutmeg and the yolk of an 
egg boiled hard ; he employed this specific for almost 
every malady. You will understand that his knowledge 
of medicine was as great a farce as his pretended reli- 
gion ; and it is probable that the small number of cures 
that he effected would not have secured the confidence 
of the negroes had he not had recourse to all sorts of 
mummeries and incantations, and acted as much upon 
their imaginations as upon their bodies. Thus, he 
never examined their wounds without performing some 
mysterious signs; while at other times he skilfully 


mingled together religion and negro superstition, and 
would put into their wounds a little fetish stone wrapped 
in a morsel of lint, and the patient would credit the stone 
with the healing effects of the lint. If any one came to 
announce to him the death of a patient, he would an- 
swer solemnly : " I foresaw it ; he was a traitor : in the 
burning of such and such a house he spared a white 
man's life ; his death was a judgment, " — and the won- 
dering crowd of rebels applauded him as he thus in- 
creased their deadly hatred for their adversaries. 

This impostor, among other methods, employed one 
which amused me by its singularity. One of the negro 
chiefs had been badly wounded in the last action. The 
Obi examined the wound attentively, dressed it as well 
as he was able, then, mounting the altar, exclaimed, 
" All this is nothing. " He then tore two or three leaves 
from the missal, burnt them to ashes, and mingling them 
with some wine in the sacramental cup, cried to the 
wounded man, " Drink ! this is the true remedy. " The 
patient, stupidly fixing his eyes on the impostor, drank, 
while the Obi with raised hands seemed to call down 
blessings on his head; and it may be the conviction 
that he was healed which brought about his cure. 


ANOTHER scene in which the Obi also played the 
principal part succeeded to this. The physician 
had taken the place of the priest, and the sorcerer now 
replaced the physician. 

" Listen, men ! * cried the Obi, leaping with incredi- 
ble agility upon the improvised altar, and sinking down 
with his legs crossed under his striped petticoat, — ■ 
" listen. Who will dive into the book of fate ? I can 
foretell the future. ' He' estudiado la cienca de los 
Gitanos ' (' I have studied the sciences of the gipsies '). 
A crowd of mulattoes and negroes hurriedly crowded up 
to him. " One by one, " said the Obi, in that voice 
which called to my mind some remembrances that I 
could not quite collect. " If you come all together, al- 
together you will enter the tomb. " 

They stopped. Just then a coloured man dressed in 
a white jacket and trousers, with a bandana handker- 
chief tied round his head, entered the cave. Consterna- 
tion was depicted on his countenance. 

" Well, Rigaud, " said the general, " what is it ? * 

Rigaud, sometimes called General Rigaud, was at the 
head of the mulatto insurgents at Lagu, ■ — a man who 
concealed much cunning under an appearance of candour, 
and cruelty beneath the mask of humanity, I looked 
upon him with much attention. 

" General, " whispered Rigaud, but as I was close to 
them I could catch every word, " on the outskirts of the 


camp there is a messenger from Jean François who has 
brought the news that Bouckmann has been killed in a 
battle with the whites under M. de Touzard, and that 
his head has been set upon the gates of the town as a 
trophy. " 

" Is that all ? " asked Biassou, his eyes sparkling with 
delight at learning the diminution of the number of chiefs 
and the consequent increase of his own importance. 

" The emissary of Jean François has in addition a 
message for you. " 

" That is all right, " replied the general ; • but get rid 
of this air of alarm, my good Bigaud. " 

" But, " said Kigaud, " do you not fear the effect that 
the death of Bouckmann will have on the army ? " 

" You wish to appear more simple than you are ; but 
you shall see what Biassou will do. Keep the messen- 
ger back for a quarter of an hour, and all will go well. " 

Then he approached the Obi, who during this conver- 
sation had been exercising his functions as fortune-teller, 
questioning the wondering negroes, examining the lines 
on their hands and foreheads, and distributing more or 
less good luck according to the size and colour of the 
piece of money thrown by each negro into a silver-gilt 
basin which stood on one side. Biassou whispered a 
few words in his ear, and without making any reply the 
Obi continued his prophetic observations. 

" He, " cried the Obi, " who has in the middle of his 
forehead a little square or triangular figure will make a 
large fortune without work or toil. The figure of three 
interlaced S's on the forehead is a fatal sign ; he who 
has it will certainly be drowned if he does not carefully 
avoid water. Four lines from the top of the nose, and 
turning round two by two towards the eyes, announces 
that you will be taken prisoner, and for a long time lan- 
guish in a foreign prison. " 


Here the Obi paused. " Friends, " continued he, u 1 
have observed this sign in the forehead of Bug-Jargal, 
the brave chief of Morne-Eouge. " 

These words, which convinced me that Bug-Jargal 
had been made prisoner, were followed by a cry of grief 
from a band of negroes who wore short scarlet breeches. 
They belonged to the band of Morne-Rouge. 

Then the Obi began again : " If you have on the right 
side of the forehead in the line of the moon a mark re- 
sembling a fork, do not remain idle, and avoid dissipa- 
tion of all kinds. A small mark like the Arabic cipher 
3 in the line of the sun betokens blows with a stick. " 

An old negro here interrupted the magician, and 
dragging himself to his feet begged him to dress his 
wound. He had been wounded in the face, and one of his 
eyes almost torn from the socket hung upon his cheek. 

The Obi had forgotten him when going through 
his patients. Directly, however, he saw him he cried 
out : " Round marks on the right side of the forehead in 
the line of the moon foretell misfortunes to the sight. 
My man, let me see your hand. " 

" Alas, excellent sir, " answered the other, " it is my 
eye that I want you to look at. " 

" Old man, " replied the Obi, crossly, " it is not neces- 
sary to see your eye ; give me your hand, I say. " 

The miserable wretch obeyed, moaning, " My eye ! 
my eye ! " 

" Good, " cried the Obi ; " if you see on the line of 
life a spot surrounded by a circle you wilMose an eye. 
There is the mark. You will become blind of an eye. " 

" I am so already, " answered the negro, piteously. 

But the Obi had merged the physician in the sorcerer, 
and thrusting him roughly on one side continued : " Lis- 
ten, my men. If the seven lines on the forehead are 
slight, twisted, and lightly marked, they announce a 


short life. He who has between his eyebrows on the 
line of the moon the figure of two crossed arrows will be 
killed in battle. If the line of life which intersects the 
hand has a cross at its junction it foretells death on the 
scaffold ; and here I must tell you, my brethren, " said 
the Obi, interrupting himself, " that one of the bravest 
defenders of our liberties, Bouckmann, has all these 
fatal marks. " 

At these words all the negroes held their breath, and 
gazed on the impostor with glances of stupid admiration. 

" Only, " continued the Obi, " I cannot reconcile the 
two opposing signs, death on the battle-field and also on 
the scaffold ; and yet my science is infallible. " 

He stopped, and cast a meaning glance at Biassou, 
who whispered something to an officer, who at once 
quitted the cavern. 

" A gaping mouth, " continued the Obi, turning on his 
audience a malicious glance, " a slouching carriage, and 
arms hanging down by the side, announces natural stu- 
pidity, emptiness, and want of reasoning powers. " 

Biassou gave a sneer of delight ; at that moment the 
aide-de-camp returned, bringing with him a negro cov- 
ered with mud and dust, whose feet, wounded by the 
roots and flints, showed that he had just come off a long 
journey. This was the messenger whose arrival Eigaud 
had announced. He held in one hand a letter, and in 
the other a document sealed with the design of a flaming 
heart ; round it was a monogram, composed of the letters 
M and N interlaced, no doubt intended as an emblem of 
the union of the free mulattoes and the negro slaves. Un- 
derneath I could read this motto, " Prejudice conquered ; 
the rod of iron broken ; long live the king ! " This doc- 
ument was a safe conduct given by Jean François. 

The messenger handed his letter to Biassou, who has- 
tily tore it open and perused the contents, then with an 


appearance of deep grief he exclaimed, " My brothers ! " 
All bowed respectfully. 

" My brothers, this is a dispatch to Jean Biassou, gen- 
eralissimo of the conquered states, Brigadier-General of 
his Catholic Majesty, from Jean François, Grand Ad- 
miral of France, Lieutenant-General of the army of the 
King of Spain and the Indies. Bouckmann, chief of the 
hundred and twenty negroes of the Blue Mountain, 
whose liberty was recognized by the Governor-General 
of Belle Combe, has fallen in the glorious struggle 
of liberty and humanity against tyranny and barbarism. 
This gallant chief has been slain in an action with the 
white brigands of the infamous Touzard. The monsters 
have cut off his head, and have announced their inten- 
tion of exposing it on a scaffold in the main square of 
the town of Cap. Vengeance I " 

A gloomy silence succeeded the reading of this dis- 
patch ; but the Obi leaped on his altar, and waving his 
white wand, exclaimed in accents of triumph, — 

" Solomon, Zerobabel, Eleazar Thaleb, Cardau, Judas 
Bowtharicht, Avenoes, Albert the Great, Bohabdil, Jean 
de Hagul, Anna Baratio, Daniel Ogromof, Eachel Flintz, 
Allornino, — I give you thanks ! The science of the 
spirits has not deceived me. Sons, friends, brothers, 
boys, children, mothers, all of you listen to me. What 
was it that I predicted ? The marks on the forehead of 
Bouckmann announced that his life would be a short 
one, that he would die in battle, and that he would ap- 
pear on the scaffold. The revelations of my art have 
turned out true to the letter, and those points which 
seemed the most obscure are now the most plain. 
Brethren, wonder and admire ! " 

The panic of the negroes changed during this dis- 
course to a sort of admiring terror. They listened to 
the Obi with a species of confidence mingled with fear, 


while the latter, carried away by his own enthusiasm, 
walked up and down the sugar-case, which presented 
plenty of space for his short steps. 

A sneer passed over Biassou's face as he addressed the 
Obi : " Your reverence, since you know what is to come, 
will you be good enough to tell me the future of Jeara 
Biassou, Brigadier-General ? " 

The Obi halted on the top of his strange altar, which 
the credulity of the negroes looked upon as something 
divine, and answered, " Venga vuestra merced" (" Com^ 
your Excellency"). At this moment the Obi was the 
most important man in the army ; the military power 
\)owed to the spiritual. 

" Your hand, General, " said the Obi, stooping to grasp 
it. " Empezo " (" I begin"). The line of junction equally 
marked in its full length promises you riches and hap- 
piness ; the line of life strongly developed announces a 
life exempt from ills, and a happy old age. Its narrow- 
ness shows >our wisdom and your superior talents, as 
well as the generosity of your heart; and lastly, I see 
what chiromancers call the luckiest of all signs, — a 
number of little wrinkles in the shape of a tree with its 
branches extending upwards ; this promises health and 
wealth ; it also prognosticates courage. General, it 
curves in the direction of the little finger ; this is the 
sign of wholesome severity. " 

As he said this, the eyes of the Obi glanced at me 
through the apertures of his veil, and I fancied that I 
could catch a well-known voice under the habitual grav- 
ity of his intonation, as he continued, — 

" The line of health, marked with a number of small 
circles, announces that you will have, for the sake of the 
cause, to order a number of executions ; divided here by 
a half-moon, it shows that you will be exposed to great 
danger from ferocious beasts, that is to say from the 


whites, if you do not exterminate them. The line of for- 
tune surrounded, like the line of life, by little branches 
rising towards the upper part of the hand, confirms the 
position of power and supremacy to which you have been 
called ; turning to the right, it is a symbol of your ad- 
ministrative capacity. The fifth line, that of the trian- 
gle prolonged to the root of the middle finger, promises 
you success in all your undertakings. Let me see your 
fingers : the thumb marked with little lines from the 
point to the nail shows that you will receive a noble 
heritage, — that of the glory of the unfortunate Bouck- 
mann, no doubt, " added the Obi, in & loud voice. " The 
slight swelling at the root of the forefinger, lightly 
marked with lines, promises honours and dignities. 
The middle finger shows nothing. Your little finger is 
covered with lines crossing one another ; you will van- 
quish all your enemies, and rise high above your rivals. 
These lines form the cross of Saint Andrew, a mark of 
genius and foresight. I also notice the figure of a circle, 
another token of your arrival at the highest power and 
dignity. ' Happy the man, ' says Eleazar Thaleb, ' who 
possesses all these signs. Destiny has its choicest gifts 
in store for him, and his fortunate star announces the 
talent which will bring him glory. ' And now, General, 
let me look at your forehead. ' He, ' says Bachel Flintz, 
of Bohemia, ' who bears on his forehead, on the line of 
the sun, a square or a triangular mark, will make a great 
fortune. ' Here is another prediction : ' If the mark is 
on the right, it refers to an important succession ; ' that 
of Bouckmann is, of course, again referred to. The 
mark in the shape of a horseshoe between the eyebrows, 
on the line of the moon, means that prompt vengeance 
will be taken for insult and tyranny. I have this mark 
as well as you. " 

The curious manner in which the Obi uttered 


these words, " I have this mark, w attracted my at- 

" The mark of a lion's claw which you have on youi 
left eyelid is only noticeable among men of undoubted 
courage. But to close this, General Jean Biassou, your 
forehead shows every sign of the most unexampled suc- 
cess, and on it is a combination of lines which form the 
letter M, the commencement of the name of the Blessed 
Virgin. In whatever part of the forehead, and in what- 
ever line of the face, such a sign appears, the significa- 
tion is the same, — genius, glory, and power. He who 
bears it will always bring success to whatever cause he 
embraces, and those under his command will never have 
to regret any loss. He alone is worth all the soldiers 
of his* army. You, General, are the elect of Fate. " 

" Thanks, your reverence, " said Biassou, preparing to 
return to his mahogany throne. 

" Stay a moment, General, " said the Obi, " I forgot 
one last sign : The line of the sun, which is so strongly 
marked on your forehead, proves that you understand 
the way of the world; that you possess the wish to make 
others happy ; that you have much liberality, and like 
to do things in a magnificent manner. " 

Biassou at once recognized his forgetfulness, and draw- 
ing from his pocket a heavy purse, he threw it into the 
plate, so as to prove that the line of the sun never lies. 

But this miraculous horoscope of the general had pro- 
duced its effect upon the army. All the insurgents, 
who since the news of the death of Bouckmann attached 
greater weight than ever to the words of the Obi, .lost 
their feelings of uneasiness and became violently enthu- 
siastic ; and trusting blindly in their infallible sorcerer 
and their predestined chief, they began to shout, " Long 
live our Obi < long live our general ! " 

The Obi and Biassou glanced at each other; and 1 


almost thought I could hear the stifled laugh of the one 
replied to by the sardonic chuckle of the other. I do 
not know how it was, but this Obi tormented me dread- 
fully ; I had a feeling that I had seen or heard him be- 
fore, and I made up my mind to speak to him. 

* Ho, Obi, your reverence, doctor, here ! " cried I to 
him. He turned sharply round. " There is some one 
here whose lot you have not yet cast, — it is mine. " 

He crossed his arms over the silver sun that covered 
his hairy breast, but he made no reply. 

I continued : " I would gladly know what you proph- 
esy with regard to my future, but your worthy comrades 
have taken my watch and my purse, and I suppose you 
will not give me a specimen of your skill for nothing. " 

He advanced quickly to me, and muttered hoarsely in 
my ear. " You deceive yourself ; let me see your hand. " 

I gave it, looking fixedly at him; his eyes sparkled as 
he bent over my hand. 

" If the line of life, " said he, " is cut by two trans- 
verse lines, it is the sign of immediate death : your life 
will be a short one. If the line of health is not in the 
centre of the hand, and if the line of life and the line 
of fortune are united so as to form an angle, a natural 
death cannot be looked for ; do not therefore, look for a 
natural death ! If the bottom of the forefinger has a long 
line cutting it, a violent death will be the result ; pre- 
pare yourself for a violent death ! " 

There was a ring of pleasure in his sepulchral voice as 
he thus announced my death, but I listened to him with 
contempt and indifference. 

" Sorcerer," said I, with a disdainful smile," you are 
skilful, for you are speaking of a certainty, w 

Once more he came closer to me. " You doubt my 
science, n cried he ; " listen, then, once more. The sev- 
erance of the line of the sun on your forehead shows me 


that you take an enemy for a friend, and a friend for an 

enemy. " 

These words seemed to refer to the treacherous Pierrot 
whom I loved, but who had betrayed me, and to the 
faithful Habibrah whom I had hated, and whose blood- 
stained garments attested his fidelity and his devotion. 

" What do you say ? * exclaimed I. 

" Listen until the end, " continued the Obi. " I spoke 
of the future ; listen to the past. The line of the moon 
on your forehead is slightly curved ; that signifies that 
your wife has been carried off. " 

I trembled, and endeavoured to spring from my seat, 
but my guards held me back. 

" You have but little patience, " continued the sor- 
cerer ; " listen to the end. The little cross that cuts the 
extremity of that curve shows me all : your wife was 
carried off on the very night of your nuptials. n 

" Wretch S " cried I, " you know where she is ! Who 
are you ? " 

I strove again to free myself, and to tear away his 
veil; but I had to yield to numbers and to force, and 
had the mortification of seeing the mysterious Obi move 
away repeating, " Do you believe me now ? Prepare foi 
immediate death. " 


AS if to draw my attention from the perplexity into 
which I had been thrown by the strange scene 
that had just passed, a new and more terrible drama 
succeeded to the farce that had been played between 
Biassou and the Obi. Biassou had again taken his 
place upon his mahogany throne, while Rigaud and the 
Obi were seated on his right and left ; the latter, with 
his arms crossed on his breast, seemed to have given 
himself up to deep thought. Biassou and Rigaud were 
chewing tobacco, and an aide-de-camp had just asked if 
he should order a general march past of the forces, when 
a tumultuous crowd of negroes, with hideous shouts, 
arrived at the entranee of the grotto. They had brought 
with them three white prisoners to be judged by Biassou, 
but what they desired was easily shown by thé cries of 
* Muerte ! Muerte ! " (" Death, death 1 ") the latter, no 
doubt, emanating from the English negroes of Bouck- 
mann's band, many of whom had by this time arrived 
to join the French and Spanish negroes of Biassou. 

The general with a gesture of his hand commanded 
silence, and ordered the three captives to be brought to 
the entrance of the grotto. I recognized two of them 
with considerable surprise ; one was .the Citizen General 

C , that philanthropist who was. in correspondence 

with all the lovers of the negro race in different parts of 
the globe, and who had proposed so cruel a mode of sup- 
pressing the insurrection to the governor. The other 


was the planter of doubtful origin, who manifested so 
great a dislike to the mulattoes, among whom the whites 
insisted on classing him. The third appeared to belong 
to a section called " poor whites, " — that is to say, 
white men who had to work for their living ; he wore a 
leathern apron, and his sleeves were turned up to his 
elbows. All the prisoners had been taken at different 
times, endeavouring to hide themselves in the mountains. 

The " poor white " was the first one that was questioned. 

" Who are you ? " asked Biassou. 

" I am Jacques Belin, carpenter to the Hospital of the 
Fathers, at Cap. " 

Surprise and shame struggled for the mastery in the 
features of the general. " Jacques Belin ! " repeated he, 
biting his lips. 

" Yes, " replied the carpenter ;• " do you not recognize 

" Begin, " retorted the general, furiously, " by recog- 
nizing me and saluting me. " 

" I do not salute my slave, " replied the carpenter, 

" Your slave, wretch ! " cried the general. 

"Yes," replied the carpenter; " yes, I was your first 
master. You pretend not to recognize me, but remem- 
ber, Jean Biassou, that I sold you for thirty piastres in 
the St. Domingo slave-market. " 

An expression of concentrated rage passed over Bias- 
sou's face. 

" Well, " continued the carpenter, " you appear ashamed 
of having worked for me ; ought not Jean Biassou to feel 
proud of having belonged to Jacques Belin? Your 
mother, the old idiot, has often swept out my shop ; but 
at last I sold her to the major domo of the Hospital of 
the Fathers, and she was so old and decrepit that he 
would give me only thirty-two livres and six sous for 


her. There is my history and yours ; but it seems as if 
the negroes and the mulattoes are growing proud, and 
that you have forgotten the time when you served Mas- 
ter Jacques Belin, the carpenter of Cap, on your knees. " 

Biassou listened to him with that sardonic smile 
which gave him the appearance of a tiger. 

" Good ! " said he. Then turning to the negroes who 
had captured Belin, " Get two trestles, two planks, and 
a saw, and take this man away. Jacques Belin, carpen- 
ter of Cap, thank me, for you shall have a true carpen- 
ter's death. * 

His sardonic laugh too fully explained the horrible 
punishment that he destined for the pride of his former 
master; but Jacques Belin did not blench, and turning 
proudly to Biassou, cried, — 

" Yes, I ought to thank you, for I bought you for 
thirty piastres, and I got work out of you to a much 
greater amount. " 

They dragged him away. 


MOEE dead than alive, the other two prisoners had 
witnessed this frightful prologue to their own 
fate. Their timid and terrified appearance contrasted 
with the courageous audacity of the carpenter; every 
limb quivered with affright. 

Biassou looked at them one after the other with his 
fox-like glance, and, as if he took a pleasure in prolong- 
ing their agony, began a discussion with Eigaud upon 
the different kinds of tobacco, — asserting that that of 
Havana was only good for manufacturing cigars, while 
for snuff he knew nothing better than the Spanish to- 
bacco, two barrels of which Bouckmann had sent him, 
being a portion of the plunder of M. Lebattre's stores 
in the island of Tortue. Then, turning sharply upon 
the Citizen General C , he asked him, — 

" What do you think ? " 

This sudden address utterly confounded the timid 
citizen, and he stammered out, " General, I am entirely 
of your Excellency's opinion." 

" You flatter me," replied Biassou ; " I want your opin- 
ion, not mine. Do you know any tobacco that makes 
better snuff than that of M. Lebattres ? " 

" No, my lord," answered C , whose evident terror 

greatly amused Biassou. 

"' General/ 'your Excellency/ 'my lord!' you are 
an aristocrat." 

"Oh, no, certainly not," exclaimed the citizen gen- 
eral. "I am a good patriot of '91, and an ardent 


" ' Negrophile ' ! " interrupted trie general ; " pray, what 
is a ' negrophile ' ? " 

" It is a friend of the blacks, " stammered the citizen. 

" It is not enough to be a friend of the blacks ; you 
must also be a friend of the men of colour. " 

" Men of colour is what I should have said, " replied 
the lover of the blacks, humbly. " I am mixed up with 
all the most famous partisans of the negroes and the 
mulattoes — " 

Delighted at the opportunity of humiliating a white 
man, Biassou again interrupted him : " ' Negroes and 
mulattoes ' ! What do you mean, pray ? Do you wish 
to insult me by making use of those terms of contempt 
invented by the whites ? There are only men of colour 
and blacks here, — do you understand that, Mr. Planter ? " 

" It was a slip, a bad habit that I picked up in child- 
hood, " answered C . " Pardon me, my lord, I had 

no wish to offend you. " 

" Leave off this my lording business ! I have already 
told you that I don't like these aristocratic ways. " 

C again endeavoured to excuse himself, and be- 
gan to stammer out a fresh explanation. * If you knew, 
citizen — " 

"Citizen, indeed!" cried Biassou, in affected anger; 
;t I detest all this Jacobin jargon. Are you by chance 
a Jacobin ? Remember that you are speaking to the 
generalissimo of the king's troops. " 

The unhappy partisan of the negro race was dumb- 
founded, and did not know in what terms to address 
this man, who equally disdained the titles of * my lord " 
or " citizen, " — the aristocratic or republican modes of 
salutation. Biassou, whose anger was only assumed, 
cruelly enjoyed the predicament in which he had placed 
C -. 

" Alas, " at last said the citizen general, " you do not 


do me justice, noble defender of the unwritten rights of 
the larger portion of the human race ! " 

In his perplexity to hit upon an acceptable mode of 
address to a man who appeared to disdain all titles, he 
had recourse to one of those sonorous periphrases which 
the republicans occasionally substituted for the name 
and title of the persons with whom they were in 

Biassou looked at him steadily and said, " You love 
the blacks and the men of colour ? " 

" Do I love - them ? " exclaimed the citizen C . 

" Why, I correspond with Brissot and — " 

Biassou interrupted him with a sardonic laugh. " Ha, 
ha ! I am glad to find in you so trusty a friend to our 
cause; you must, of course, thoroughly detest those 
wretched colonists who punished our insurrection by a 
series of the most cruel executions ; and you, of course 
think with us that it is not the blacks, but the whites, 
who are the true rebels, since they are in arms against 
the laws of nature and humanity ? You must execrate 
such monsters ! " 

" I do execrate them, " answered C . 

" Well, " continued Biassou, " what do you think of a 
man who, in his endeavours to crush the last efforts of 
the slaves to regain their liberty, placed the heads of 
fifty black men on each side of the avenue that led to 
his house ? " 

C grew fearfully pale. 

" What do you think of a white man who would pro- 
pose to surround the town of Cap with a circle of negro 
heads ? " 

" Mercy, mercy ! " cried the terrified citizen general. 

* Am I threatening you ? " replied Biassou, coldly. 
* Let me finish, — a circle of heads that would reach 
from Fort Picolet to Cape Caracol. What do you think 
of that? Answer me!" 


The words of Biassou, * Do I threaten you." had given 

a faint ray of hope to C , for he fancied that the 

general might have heard of this terrible proposition 
without knowing the author of it ; he therefore replied 
with all the firmness that he could muster, in order to 
remove any impression that the idea was his own : — 

" I consider such a suggestion an atrocious crime. " 

Biassou chuckled. " Good ! And what punishment 
should be inflicted on the man who proposed it ? " 

The unfortunate C hesitated. 

" What! " cried Biassou, " you hesitate! Are you, or 
are you not, the friend of the blacks ? " 

Of the two alternatives the wretched man chose the 
least threatening one, and seeing no hostile light in 
Biassou 's eyes, he answered in a low voice: "The 
guilty person deserves death. " 

" Well answered, " replied Biassou, calmly, throwing 
aside the tobacco that he had been chewing. His as- 
sumed air of indifference had completely deceived the 
unfortunate lover of the negro race, and he made another 
effort to dissipate any suspicions which might have been 
engendered against him. 

" No one, " cried C , " has a more ardent desire 

for your success than I. I correspond with Brissot and 
Pruneau de Pomme-Gouge in France, with Magaw in 
America, with Peter Paulus in Holland, with the Abbé 
Tamburini in Italy, — " and he was continuing to unfold 
the same string of names which he had formerly re- 
peated, but with a different motive, at the council held 
at M. de Blanchelande's, when Biassou interrupted him. 

" What do I care with whom you correspond ? Tell 
me rather where are your granaries and store-houses, for 
my army has need of supplies. Your plantation is 
doubtless a rich one, and your business must be lucra- 
tive since you correspond with so many merchants. " 


C ventured timidly to remark : " Hero of human- 
ity, they are not merchants, but philosophers, philan- 
thropists, lovers of the race of blacks. " 

" Then, " said Biassou, with a shake of his head, " if 
you have nothing that can be plundered, what good are 


This question afforded a chance of safety of which 

G eagerly availed himself. " Illustrious warrior, " 

exclaimed he, " have you an economist in your 

army ? " 

' " What is that ? " asked the general. 

" It is, " replied the prisoner, with as much calmness 
as his fears would permit him to assume, " a most ne- 
cessary man, — -one whom all appreciate, one who fol- 
lows out and classes in their proper order the respective 
material resources of an empire, and gives to each its 
real value, increasing and improving them by combin- 
ing their sources and results, and pouring them like 
fertilizing streams into the main river of general util- 
ity, which in its turn swells the great sea of public 
prosperity. " 

" Caramba ! " observed Biassou, leaning over towards 
the Obi. " What the deuce does he mean by all these 
words strung together like the beads on your rosary ? " 

The Obi shrugged his shoulders in sign of ignorance 
and disdain, as citizen C continued : — 

■ If you will permit me to observe, valiant chief of the 
regenerators of St. Domingo, I have carefully studied the 
works of the greatest economists of the world, — Turgot, 
Eaynal, and Mirabeau the friend of man. I have put 
their theories into practice ; I thoroughly understand 
the science indispensable for the government of king- 
doms and states — " 

" The economist is not economical of his words^ " ob- 
served Kigaud, with his bland and cunning smile. 


" But you, eternal talker, " cried Biassou, * tell me, 
have I any kingdoms or states to govern ? " 

" Not yet perhaps, great man, but they will come ; 
and besides, my knowledge descends to all the useful 
details which are comprised in the interior economy of 
an army. " 

The general again interrupted him : * I have nothing 
to do with the interior economy of the army ; I com- 
mand it. " 

" Good ! " replied the citizen ; " you shall bë the com- 
mander, I will be the commissary. I have much special 
knowledge as to the increase of cattle — " 

" Do you think we are going to breed cattle ? " cried 
Biassou, with his sardonic laugh. " No, my good fel- 
low, we are content with eating them. When cattle 
become scarce in the French colony I shall cross the 
line of mountains on the frontier and take the Spanish 
sheep and oxen from the plains of Cotury, of La Vega, 
of St. Jago, and from the banks of the Yuna ; if neces- 
sary I will go as far as the Island of Jamaica, and to 
the back of the mountain of Cibos, and from the mouths of 
the Neybe to those of Santo Domingo ; besides, I should 
be glad to punish those infernal Spanish planters for 
giving up Ogé to the French. You see I am not uneasy 
as regards provisions, and so have no need of your 
knowledge. " 

This open declaration rather disconcerted the poor 
economist ; he made, however, one more effort for safety. 
" My studies, " said he, " have not been limited to the 
reproduction of cattle ; I am acquainted with other spe- 
cial branches of knowledge that may be very useful to 
you. I can show you the method of manufacturing 
pitch and working coal mines. " 

" What do I care for that ? " exclaimed Biassou. 
" When I want charcoal I burn a few leagues of forest. " 


" I can tell you the proper kinds of wood to use 
for shipbuilding, — the chicarm and the sabieca for 
the keels ; the yabas for the knees, the medlars for the 
framework, the hacomas, the gaïacs, the cedars, the 
acomas — " 

" Que te lleven todos los demonios de los diez-y-siete 
infernos Î " (" May the devils of the thirty-seven hells 
fly away with you! ") cried Biassou, boiling over with 

" I beg your pardon, my gracious patron, " said the 
trembling economist, who did not understand Spanish. 

" Listen, " said Biassou. " I don't want to build ves- 
sels ; there is only one vacancy that I can offer you, and 
that is not a very important one. I want a man to wait 
upon me ; and now, Mr. Philosopher, tell me if that 
will suit you. You will have to serve me on your 
bended knees; you will prepare my pipe, cook my 
calalou and turtle soup, and you will stand behind me 
with a fan of peacock or parrot feathers like those two 
pages. Now, will the situation suit you ? " 

Citizen C , whose only desire was to save his life, 

bent to the earth with a thousand expressions of joy and 

" You accept my offer, then ? " asked Biassou. 

" Can you ask such a question, generous master ? Do 
you think that I should hesitate for a moment in accept- 
ing so distinguished a post as that of being in constant 
attendance on you ? " 

At this reply the diabolical sneer of Biassou became 
more pronounced. He rose up with an air of triumph, 
crossed his arms on his chest, and thrusting aside with 
his foot the white man's head who was prostrate on the 
ground before him, he cried in a loud voice, — 

" I am delighted at being able to fathom how far the 
cowardice of the white man could go; I had already 


measured the extent of his cruelty. Citizen C , it 

is to you that I owe this double experience. I knew 
all ; how could you have been sufficiently besotted to 
think that I did not ? It was you who presided at the 
executions of June, July, and August ; it was you who 
placed fifty negro heads on each side of your avenue; 
it was you who proposed to slaughter the five hundred 
aegroes who were confined in irons after the revolt, and 
to encircle the town of Cap with their heads from Fort 
Picolet to Cape Caracol. If you could have done it, you 
would have placed my head among them ; and now you 
think yourself lucky if I will take you as my body-servant. 
No, no, I have more regard for your honour than you 
yourself have, and I will not inflict this affront on you ; 
prepare to die ! " 

" At a gesture of Biassou's hand the negroes removed 
the unhappy lover of the blacks to a position near me, 
where, overwhelmed by the honour of his position, he 
fell to the ground without being able to articulate a 


" TT is your turn now, " said the general, turning to the 
J- last of the prisoners, — the planter who was accused 
by the white men of having black blood in his veins, 
and who had on that account sent me a challenge. 

A general clamour drowned the reply of the planter. 
* Muerte ! Mort ! Touyé ! " cried the negroes, grinding 
their teeth, and shaking their fists at the unhappy 

" General, " said a mulatto, making himself heard 
above the uproar, " he is a white man, and he must die. " 

The miserable planter, by cries and gesticulations, 
managed to edge in some words. " No, general ! no, my 
brothers ! it is an infamous calumny. I am a mulatto 
like yourselves, of mixed blood ; my mother was a ne- 
gress, like your mothers and sisters. " 

" He lies ! " cried the infuriated negroes ; " he is a 
white man ; he has always detested the coloured 
people. " 

"Never!" retorted the prisoner; "it is the whites 
that I detest. I have always said with you, ' Nègre ce 
blan ; blan ce negre ' (' The negroes are the masters ; the 
whites are the slaves '). " 

" Not at all ! " cried the crowd, " not at all ! Kill the 
white man, kill him! " 

Still the unhappy wretch kept repeating in heart- 
rending accents, " I am a mulatto, I am one of your- 
selves. " 

" Give me a proof," was Biassou's sole reply. 


* A proof ? " answered the prisoner, wildly ; " the proot 
is that the whites have always despised me. " 

" That may be true, " returned Biassou, " but you are 
an insolent hound to tell us so." 

A young mulatto stepped to the front and addressed 
the planter in an excited manner. " That the whites 
despised you is a fact; but, on the other hand, you 
affected to look down upon the mulattoes among whom 
they classed you. It has even been reported that you 
once challenged a white man who called you a half- 
caste. " 

A howl of execration arose from the crowd, and the 
cry of " death " was repeated more loudly than ever ; 
while the planter, casting an appealing glance at me, 
continued, with tears in his eyes, — 

" It is a calumny ; my greatest glory and happiness is 
in belonging to the blacks. I am a mulatto. " 

" If you really were a mulatto, " observed Eigaud, 
quietly, " you would not make use of such an expression. " 

" How do I know what I am saying ? " asked the 
panic-stricken wretch. "" General, the proof that I am of 
mixed blood is in the black circle that you see round 
the bottom of my nails. " 

Biassou thrust aside the suppliant hand. " I do not 
possess the knowledge of our chaplain, who can tell 
what a man is by looking at his hand. But listen to 
me: my soldiers accuse you — some, of being a white 
man ; others, of being a false brother. If this is the 
case you ought to die. You, on the other hand, assert 
that you belong to our race, and that you have never 
denied it. There is one method by which you can prove 
your assertion. Take this dagger and stab these two 
white prisoners ! " 

As he spoke, with a wave of his hand, Biassou desig- 
nated the citizen C and myself. 


The planter drew back from the dagger which, with 
a devilish smile on his face, Biassou presented to him. 

" What ! " said the general, " do you hesitate ? It is 
your only chance of proving your assertion to the army 
that you are not a white, and are one of ourselves. 
Come, decide at once, for we have no time to lose. " 

The prisoner's eyes glared wildly ; he stretched out 
his hand towards the dagger, then let his arm fall again, 
turning away his head, while every limb quivered with 

" Come, come ! " cried Biassou, in tones of impatience 
and anger, " I am in a hurry. Choose : either kill 
them, or die with them ! " 

The planter remained motionless, as if he had been 
turned to stone. 

" Good ! " said Biassou, turning towards the negroes ; 
" he does not wish to be the executioner, let him be the 
victim. I can see that he is nothing but a white man ; 
away with him ! " 

The negroes advanced to seize him. This movement 
impelled him to immediate choice between giving or 
receiving death. Extreme cowardice produces a bastard 
species of courage. Stepping forward, he snatched the 
dagger that Biassou still held out to him, and without 
giving himself time to reflect upon what he was about 
to do, he precipitated himself like a tiger upon citizen 

C , who was lying on the ground near me. Then a 

terrible struggle commenced. The lover of the negro 
race, who had at the conclusion of his interview with 
Biassou remained plunged in a state of despair and stu- 
por, had hardly noticed the scene between the general 
and the planter, so absorbed was he in the thought of 
his approaching death ; but when he saw the man rush 
upon him, and the steel gleam above his head, the im- 
minence of his danger aroused him at once. He started 


to his feet, grasped trie arm of his would-be murderer, 
and exclaimed in a voice of terror, — 

" Pardon, pardon ! What are you doing ? What have 
I done ? " 

" You must die, sir, " said the half-caste, fixing his 
frenzied eyes upon his victim, and endeavouring to dis- 
engage his arm. " Let me do it ; J will not hurt you. " 

" Die by your hand, " cried the economist ; " but why ? 
Spare me ! you wish perhaps to kill me because I used 
to say that you were a mulatto. But spare my life, and 
I vow that I will always declare that you are a white 
man. Yes, you are white ; I will say so everywhere, 
but spare me ' " 

The unfortunate man had taken the wrong method of 
suing for mercy. 

" Silence, silence ! " cried the half-caste, furious at 
the idea of the danger he was incurring, and fearing 
that the negroes would hear the assertion. 

But the other cried louder than ever that he knew 
that he was a white man, and of good family. The 
half-caste made a last effort to impose silence on him ; 
then finding his efforts vain, he thrust aside his arms, 
and pressed the dagger upon C 's breast. The un- 
happy man felt the point of the weapon, and in his 
despair bit the arm that was driving the dagger home. 

" Monster ! wretch ' " exclaimed he, " you are murder- 
ing me ! " Then casting a glance of supplication towards 
Biassou, he cried, " Defend me, avenger of humanity ! " 

Then the murderer pressed more heavily on the dag- 
ger; a gush of blood bubbled over his fingers, and spat- 
tered his face. The knees of the unhappy lover of the 
negro race bent beneath him, his arms fell by his 
side, his eyes closed, he uttered a stifled groan, and 
fell dead. 


T WAS paralyzed with horror at this scene, in which I 
J- every moment expected to play an important part. 

The " avenger of humanity " had gazed on the struggle 
without a lineament of his features changing. When all 
was over, he turned to his terrified pages. " More to- 
bacco, " said he, and began to chew calmly. The Obi 
and Rigaud were equally impassible, but the negroes 
appeared terrified at the horrible drama that their gen- 
eral had caused to be enacted before them. 

One white man, however, yet remained to be slaugh- 
tered ; my turn had come. I cast a glance upon the 
murderer who was about to become my executioner, and 
a feeling of pity came over me. His lips were violet, 
his teeth chattered, a convulsive tremor caused every 
limb to quiver. By a mechanical movement his hand 
was continually passed over his forehead, as if to oblit- 
erate the traces of the blood which had so liberally 
sprinkled it ; he looked with an air of terrified wonder 
at the bleeding body which lay at his feet, as though he 
were unable to detach his strained eyeballs from the 
spectacle of his victim. I waited for the moment when 
he would resume his task of blood. The position was a 
strange one : he had already tried to kill me and failed, 
to prove that he was white ; and now he w T as going to 
murder me to show that he was black. 

* Come," said Biassou, addressing him, " this is good; 
I am pleased with you, my friend. " Then glancing at 


me, he added, " You need not finish the other one ; and 
now I declare you one of us, and name you executioner 
to the army. " 

At these words a negro stepped out of the ranks, and 
bowing three times to the general, cried out in his jar- 
gon, which I will spare you, — 

" And I, General ? " 

" Well, what do you want ? " asked Biassou. 

" Are you going to do nothing for me, General ? " asked 
the negro. " Here you give an important post to this 
dog of a white, who murders to save his own skin, and 
to prove that he is one of ourselves. _ Have you no post 
to give to me, who am a true black ? " 

This unexpected request seemed to embarrass Biassou, 
and Eigaud whispered to him in French, — 

" You can't satisfy him ; try to elude his request. " 

" You wish for promotion, then ? " asked Biassou of 
the true black. " Well, I am willing enough to grant 
it to you. What grade do you wish for ? " 

" I wish to be an officer. " 

" An officer, eh ? And what are your claims to the 
epaulet founded on ? " 

" It was I, " answered the negro, emphatically, " who 
set fire to the house of Lagoscelte in the first days of 
August last. It was I who murdered M. Clement the 
planter, and carried the head of his sugar refiner on my 
pike. I killed ten white women and seven small chil- 
dren, one of whom on the point of a spear served as a 
standard for Bouckmann's brave blacks. Later on I 
burnt alive the families of four colonists, whom I had 
locked up in the strong room of Fort Galifet. My father 
was broken on the wheel at Cap, my brother was hung 
at Eocrow, and I narrowly escaped being shot. I have 
burnt three coffee plantations, six indigo estates, and 
two hunderd acres of sugar-cane ; I murdered my master, 
M. Noé, and his mother— " 


" Spare us the recital of your services, " said Bigaud, 
whose feigned benevolence was the mask for real cruelty, 
but who was ferocious with decency, and could not lis- 
ten to this cynical confession of deeds of violence. 

" I could quote many others, " continued the negro, 
proudly, " but you will no doubt consider that these are 
sufficient to ensure my promotion, and to entitle me to 
wear a gold epaulet like my comrades there, " pointing 
to the staff of Biassou. 

The general affected to reflect for a few minutes, and 
then gravely addressed the negro. " I am satisfied with 
your services, and should be pleased to promote you; 
but you must satisfy me on one point. Do you under- 
stand Latin ? " 

The astonished negro opened his eyes widely. " Eh, 
General ? " said he. 

" Yes, " repeated Biassou, quickly ; " do you under- 
stand Latin ? " 

" La — Latin ? " stammered the astonished negro. 

" Yes, yes, yes, Latin ; do you understand Latin ? " 
said the cunning chief, and unfolding a banner upon 
which was embroidered the verse from the Psalms, " In 
exitu Israël de Egypto, " he added, " Explain the mean- 
ing of these words. " 

The negro, in complete ignorance of what was meant, 
remained silent and motionless, fumbling with the 
waistband of his trousers, while his astonished eyes 
wandered from the banner to the general, and from the 
general back again to the banner. 

" Come, go on ! " exclaimed Biassou, impatiently. 

The negro opened and shut his mouth several times, 
scratched his head, and at last said slowly: "I don't 
understand it, General. " 

" How, scoundrel ! " cried Biassou ; " you wish to be' 
come an officer, and you do not understand Latin ! " 


" But, General — " stammered the puzzled negro. 

" Silence ! " roared Biassou, whose anger appeared to 
increase ; " I do not know what prevents me from hav- 
ing you shot at once. Did you ever hear such a thing, 
Kigaud ? He wants to be an officer, and does not under- 
stand Latin. Well then, idiot, as you do not under- 
stand, I will explain what is written on this banner: 
In exitu — ' Every soldier ' — Israël — ' who does not 
understand Latin ' — de Egypto — ' cannot be made an 
officer. ' Is not that the translation, reverend sir ? " 

The Obi bowed his head in the affirmative, and Bias- 
sou continued, — 

" This brother of whom you are jealous, and whom I 
have appointed executioner, understands Latin ! " He 
turned to the new executioner : " You know Latin, do 
you not ? Prove it to this blockhead. What is the 
meaning of Dominus voliscum ? " 

The unhappy half-caste, roused from his gloomy rev- 
erie by the dreaded voice, raised his head ; and though 
his brain was still troubled by the cowardly murder 
that he had just committed, terror compelled him to be 
obedient. There was something pitiable in his manner, 
as his mind went back to his schooldays, and in the 
midst of his terrible feelings and remorse he repeated, 
in the tone of a child saying its lesson, " Dominus vobis- 
cum, --that means, ' May the Lord be with you. ' " 

" Et cum spirito tuo, " added the mysterious Obi, 

" Amen, " repeated Biassou ; then resuming his angry 
manner, and mingling with his reproaches some Latin 
phrases to impress the negroes with the superior attain- 
ments of their chief, he cried : " Go to the rear rank, 
sursum corda / Never attempt to enter the places of 
those who know Latin, orate fratres, or I will have you 
hung. JBonus, bona, honum ! " 


The astonished and terrified negro slunk away, greeted 
by the hoots and hisses of his comrades, who were in- 
dignant at his presumption, and impressed with the 
deep learning of their general. 

Burlesque though this scene was, it inspired me with 
a very high idea of Biassou's administrative capabilities. 
He had made ridicule the means of repressing ambi- 
tious aspirations, which are always so dangerous to 
authority in undisciplined bodies and his cunning gave 
me a fuller idea of his mental powers, as well as of the 
crass ignorance of the negroes under his command. 


r I ^HE breakfast hour had now arrived. The shell of 
'-*- a turtle was placed before Biassou, in which 
smoked a species of olla-podrida seasoned with bacon, 
in which turtle -flesh took the place of lamb ; an enor- 
mous carib cabbage floated on the surface of the stew, 
and in addition, on strips of bark, were dried raisins 
and water-melons, a loaf of maize bread ; a bottle of 
wine, bound round with tarred string, completed the 
feast. Biassou took from his pocket a few heads of 
garlic and rubbed his bread with them; then, without 
even ordering the bleeding form to be carried away, he 
began to eat, inviting Eigaud to do the same. There 
was something terrible in Biassou 's appetite. 

The Obi did not join their repast ; like others in his 
profession, I could easily understand that he never took 
anything in public, to induce a belief among the negroes 
that he lived entirely without food. 

During breakfast, Biassou ordered one of his aides-de- 
camp to direct the review of the army to commence, and 
the different corps began to defile past in fairly good 
order. The negroes of Morne-Bouge were the first ; there 
were about four thousand of them, divided into com- 
panies commanded by chiefs, who were distinguished 
by their scarlet breeches and sashes. This force was 
composed of tall and powerful negroes ; some of them 
carried guns, axes, and sabres, but many had no other 
arms than bows and arrows, and javelins rudely fash- 


ioned by themselves. They carried no standard, and 
moved past in mournful silence. As they marched on, 
Biassou whispered to Eigaud, — 

" When will Blanchelande's and Eouvray's shot and 
shell free me from these bandits of Morne-Eouge ? I 
hate them ; they are nearly all of them Congos, and they 
only believe in killing in open battle, — following the 
example of their chief Bug-Jargal, a young fool, who 
plays at being generous and magnanimous. You do not 
know him, Eigaud, and I hope you never will ; for the 
whites have taken him prisoner, and they may perhaps 
rid me of him, as they did of Bouckmann. " 

" Speaking of Bouckmann, " answered Eigaud " there 
are the negroes of Macaya just passing, and I see in 
their ranks the negro whom Jean François sent to you 
with the news of Bouckmann 's death. Do you know 
that that man might upset all the prophecies of the Obi, 
if he were to say that he had been kept for more than 
half an hour at the outposts, and that he had told nie 
the news before you sent for him ? " 

" Diabolo ! " answered Biassou, you are in the right, 
my friend; this man's mouth must be shut. Wait a 
bit. " 

Then raising his voice he called out " Macaya ! " The 
leader of the division left the ranks, and approached the 
general with the stock of his firelock reversed, in token 
of respect. 

" Make that man who does not belong to your division 
leave his rank and come forward. " 

Macaya speedily brought the messenger of Jean 
François before the general, who at once assumed that 
appearance of anger which he knew so well how to 

" Who are you ? " cried he. 

" General, I am a black. " 

132 BUG-JAÏfcGAL. 

u Carramha ! I can see that well enough ; but what is 
your name ? " 

" My name is Vavelan ; my patron saint is Sabas, 
deacon and martyr, whose feast is on the twentieth day 
before the nativity of our Lord. " 

Biassou interrupted him: "How dare you present 
yourself on parade, amidst shining muskets and white 
cross-belts, with your sword without a sheath, your 
breeches torn, and your feet muddy ? " 

" General, " answered the negro, " it is not my fault. 
T was dispatched by the Grand Admiral, Jean François, 
to bring you the news of the death of the chief of the 
English negroes ; and if my clothes are torn and my feet 
bemired, it is because I have run, without stopping to 
take breath, to bring you the news as soon as possible ; 
but they detained me at — " 

Biassou frowned. " I did not ask you about that, but 
how you dared to enter the ranks in so unbecoming a 
dress. Commend your soul to Saint Sabas, your patron, 
the deacon and martyr, and go and get yourself shot. " 

And here I had another proof of the ascendency that 
Biassou exercised over the insurgents. The unfortunate 
man who was ordered to go and get himself executed 
did not utter a protest ; he bowed his head, crossed his 
arms on his breast, saluted his pitiless judge three 
times, and after having knelt to the Obi, who gave him 
plenary absolution, he left the cavern. A few minutes 
afterwards a volley of musketry told us that Biassou's 
commands had been obeyed, and that the negro was no 

Freed from all sources of uneasiness, the general 
turned to Eigaud, a gleam of pleasure in his eye, and 
gave a triumphant chuckle which seemed to say, " Ad- 
mire me ! " 


BUT the review still continued. This army, which 
had presented so curious a spectacle in camp, had 
a no less extraordinary appearance under arms. Some- 
times a horde of almost naked negroes would come along 
armed with clubs and tomahawks, marching to the 
notes of a goat's horn like mere savages ; then would 
come regiments of mulattoes, dressed in the English or 
Spanish manner, well armed and equipped, regulating 
their pace by the roll of the drum ; then a band of né- 
gresses and their children carrying forks and. spits; 
then some tag-rag, bent under the weight of an old mus- 
ket without lock or barrel ; then griotes with their feath- 
ered aprons, griots dancing with hideous contortions, 
and singing incoherent airs to the accompaniment of 
guitars, tomtoms, and balafos ; then would be a proces- 
sion of priests, or Obi men, of half-castes, quarter-castes, 
free mulattoes, or wandering hordes of escaped slaves 
with a proud look of liberty on their faces and shining 
muskets on their shoulders, dragging in their ranks 
well -filled wagons, or some artillery taken from the 
whites, which were looked on more as trophies than as 
military engines, and yelling out at the top of their voices 
the songs of " Grand-Pré " and " Oua-Nassé. " Above 
the heads of all floated flags, banners, and standards of 
every form, colour, and device, — white, red, tricolour, 
with the lilies, with th c iap of liberty, bearing inscrip- 
tions : " Death to Priests and Nobles ! " " Long live 


Eeligion ! " " Liberty and Equality ! " " Long live the 
King ! " " Viva Espana ! " " No more Tyrants ! " etc. , 
— a confusion of sentiments which showed that the in- 
surgents were a mere crowd collected together, with 
ideas as different as were the men who composed it. 
On passing in their turn before the cave the companies 
drooped their banners, and Biassou returned the salute. 
He addressed every band either in praise or censure, and 
each word that dropped from his mouth was received by 
his men with fanatical respect or superstitious dread. 

The wave of savage soldiery passed away at last. I 
confess that the sight that had at first afforded some dis- 
traction to my feelings finished by wearying me. The 
sun went down as the last ranks filed away, and his last 
rays cast a copper-coloured hue upon the granite portals 
of the cave. 


BIASSOU seemed to be dreaming. When the review 
was concluded, his last orders had been given, and 
the insurgents had retired to the huts, he condescended 
to address me again. 

" Young man, " said he, " you have now had the 
means of judging of my power and genius ; the time has 
now arrived for you to bear the report to Leogri. " 

" It is not my fault that he has not had it earlier, " 
answered I, coldly. 

" You are right," replied Biassou. He then paused, as 
if to note what the effect would be upon me of what he 
was going to say, and then added : " But it will depend 
upon yourself whether you ever carry the message or not. " 

" What do you mean ? " exclaimed I, in astonishment. 

" Why, " replied he, " that your life depends upon 
yourself, and that you can save it if you will. " 

This sudden paroxysm of pity — the first, and no 
doubt the last, which had ever possessed Biassou — sur- 
prised me much, and astonished the Obi so greatly that 
he leaped from the position which he had so long main- 
tained, and placing himself face to face with the general 
addressed him in angry tones : — 

" What are you saying ? Have you forgotten your 
promise ? Neither God nor you can dispose of this 
life, for it belongs to me. n 

At that instant I thought that I recognized the voice ; 
but it was only a fleeting recollection, and in a moment 
had passed away. 

Biassou got up from his seat without betraying any 
anger, spoke for a few moments in whispers to the Obi, 


and pointed to the black flag which I had already re- 
marked ; and after a little more conversation the Obi 
nodded in sign of assent. Both of them then reverted to 
their former positions. 

" Listen to me, " said the general, drawing from his 
pocket the dispatch which Jean François had sent to 
him. " Things are going ill. Bouckmann has been 
killed. The whites have slaughtered more than two 
thousand of our men in the district of Cul-de-Sac. The 
colonists are continuing to establish and to fortify military 
posts. By our own folly we have lost the chance of taking 
Cap, and it will be long before another occasion will pre- 
sent itself. On the eastern side our line of march has been 
cut by a river, and the whites have defended the pas- 
sage by a pontoon battery and a fortified camp. On the 
south side they have planted artillery on the mountain- 
ous road called the Haut-du-Cap. The position is, in 
addition, defended by a strong stockade, at which all 
the inhabitants have laboured, and in front of it there 
is a strong chevaux-de-frise. Cap, therefore, is beyond 
our reach. Our ambush in the ravines of Dompte- 
Mulâtre was a failure ; and, to acid to all these misfor- 
tunes, the Siamese fever has devastated our camps. In 
consequence, the Grand Admiral (and I agree with him) 
has decided to treat with the Governor Blanchelande 
and the Colonial Assembly. Here is the letter that we 
have addressed to the Assembly on this matter. Listen ! " 

Gentlemen of the House of Deputies, — In the great 
misfortunes which have afflicted this great and important col- 
ony we have also been enveloped, and there remains nothing 
for us to say in justification of our conduct. One day you 
will render us the justice that our conduct merits. 

According to us, the King of Spain is a good king, who 
treats us well, and has testified it to us by rewards; so we 
shall continue to serve him with zeal and devotion. 


We see by the law of Sept. 28, 1791, that the National 
Assembly and the King have agreed to settle definitely the 
status of slaves, and the political situation of people of colour. 
We will defend the decrees of the National Assembly with 
the last drop of our blood. 

It would be most interesting to us if you would declare, by 
an order sanctioned by your general, as to your intentions 
regarding the position of the slaves. Knowing that they are 
the objects of your solicitude through their chiefs, who send 
you this, they will be satisfied if the relations now broken 
are once again resumed. 

Do not count, gentlemen Deputies, upon our consenting to 
take up arms for the revolutionary Assemblies. We are the 
subjects of three kings, — the King of Congo, the born mas- 
ter of all the blacks; the King of France, who represents our 
fathers; and the King of Spain, who is the representative 
of our mothers. These three kings are the descendants of 
those who, conducted by a star, worshipped the Man God. If 
we were to consent to serve the Assemblies, we might be 
forced to take up arms and to make war against our brothers, 
the subjects of those three kings to whom we have sworn 
fidelity. And, besides, we do not know what is meant by 
the will of the Nation, seeing that since the world has been 
in existence we have always executed that of the King. The 
Prince of France loves us; the King of Spain never ceases 
to help us. We aid them, — they aid us; it is the cause of 
humanity; and, besides, if these kings should fail us we 
could soon enthrone a king of our own. 

Such are our intentions, although we now consent to make 

{Signed) Jean François, General. 

Biassou, Brigadier. 
Desprez, \ 

Manzeau, I Commissaires, 
Toussaint, l ad hoc. 1 
Aubert, ) 

1 It is a fact that thifc ridiculously characteristic letter was sent to tha 


" You see, " said Biassou, after he had read this piece 
of negro diplomacy, every word of which has remained 
imprinted on my memory, " that our intentions are 
peaceable ; but this is what we want you to do : Neither 
Jean François nor I have been brought up in the schools 
of the whites, or learned the niceties of their language ; 
we know how to light, but not how to write. Now, we 
do not wish that there should be anything in our letter 
at which our former masters can laugh. You seem to 
have learned these frivolous accomplishments in which 
we are lacking. Correct any faults you may find in this 
dispatch, so that it may excite no derision among the 
whites, and — I will give you your life! " 

This proposition of becoming the corrector of Biassou 's 
faults of spelling and composition was too repugnant to 
my pride for me to hesitate for a moment ; and besides, 
what did I care for life ? I declined his offer. He ap- 
peared surprised. 

" What ! " exclaimed he, " you prefer death to scrawl- 
ing a few marks with a pen on a piece of paper ? " 

" Yes, " replied I. 

My determination seemed to embarrass him. After a 
few moments of thought he again addressed me : " Lis- 
ten, young fool ! I am less obstinate than you are ; I 
give you until to-morrow evening, up to the setting of 
the sun, when you shall again be brought before me. 
Think well, then, before you refuse to obey my wishes. 
Adieu. Let night bring reflection to you ; and remem- 
ber that with us death is not simply death, — much 
comes before you reach it. " 

The frightful sardonic grin with which he concluded 
his last speech too plainly brought to my recollection 
the awful tortures which it was Biassou ? s greatest pleas- 
ure to inflict upon his prisoners. 

" Candi, " continued Biassou, " remove the prisoner. 


and give his in charge to the men of Morne-Kouge. I 
wish him to live for another day, and perhaps my other 
soldiers would not have the patience to let him do so. " 

The mulatto Candi, who commanded the guard, caused 
my arms to be bound behind my back ; a soldier took 
hold of the end of the cord, and we left the grotto. 


"Xll^HEN any extraordinary events, unexpected anxi- 
W eties or catastrophies, intrude themselves sud- 
denly into a life up to that period peaceful and happy, 
these unexpected emotions interrupt the repose of the 
soul which lay dreaming in the monotony of prosperity. 
Misfortune which comes on you in this manner does not 
seem like an awakening from bliss, but rather like a 
dream of evil. With the man who has been invariably 
happy, despair begins with stupor. Unexpected misery 
is like cramp, — it clasps, and deadens everything. 
Men, acts, and things at that time pass before us like a 
fantastic apparition, and move along as if in a dream. 
Everything in the horizon of our life is changed, both 
the atmosphere and the perspective ; but it still goes on 
for a long time before our eyes have lost that sort of 
luminous image of past happiness which follows in its 
train, and interposes without cessation between it and 
the sombre present. Then everything that is appears to 
be unreal and ridiculous, and we can scarcely believe in 
our own existence, because we find nothing around us 
that formerly used to compose our life, and we cannot 
understand how all can have gone away without taking 
us with it, and why nothing of our life remains to us. 

Were this strained position of the soul to continue 
long, it would disturb the equilibrium of the brain and 
become madness, — a state happier perhaps than that 
which remains, for life then is nothing but a vision of 
past misfortune, acting like a ghost. 


GENTLEMEN, I hardly know why I lay before you 
my ideas upon such a subject ; they are not those 
which you understand, or can be made to understand. 
To comprehend them thoroughly, you must have gone 
through what I have. But such was the state of my 
mind when the guards of Biassou handed me over to 
the , negroes of Morne-Eouge. I was still in a dream, 
— it appeared as if one body of phantoms passed me 
over to another ; and without opposing any resistance I 
permitted them to bind me by the middle to a tree. 
They then gave me some boiled potatoes, which I ate 
with the mechanical instinct that God grants to man 
even in the midst of overwhelming thought. 

The darkness had now come on, and my guards took 
refuge in their huts, — with the exception of half-a- 
dozen who remained with me, lying before a large fire 
that they had lighted to preserve themselves from the 
cold night-air. In a few moments they were all buried 
in profound sleep. 

The state of physical weakness into which I had 
fallen caused my thoughts to wander in a strange man- 
ner. I thought of those calm and peaceful days which 
but a few weeks ago I had passed with Marie, without 
being able to foresee any future but one of continued 
happiness. I compared them with the day that had 
just expired, — a day in which so many strange events 
had occurred as almost to make me wonder whether I 
was not labouring under some delusion. I had been 


three times condemned to death, and still remained un- 
der sentence. I thought of my future, bounded only by 
the morrow, and which offered nothing but misfortune 
and a death happily near at hand. I seemed to be the 
victim of some terrible nightmare. Again and again 1 
asked myself if all that had happened was real : was I 
really in the power of the sanguinary Biassou, and was my 
Marie lost to me forever ? Could this prisoner, guarded 
by six savages, bound to a tree, and condemned to cer- 
tain death, really be I \ In spite of all my efforts to 
repel them, the thoughts of Marie would force them- 
selves upon me. In anguish I thought of her fate ; I 
strained my bonds in my efforts to break them, and to 
fly to her succour, ever hoping that the terrible dream 
would pass away, and that Heaven \70uld not permit all 
the horrors that I dreaded to fall upon the head of her 
who had been united to me in a sacred bond. In my 
sad preoccupation the thought of Pierrot returned to me, 
and rage nearly took away my senses ; the pulses of my 
temples throbbed nearly to bursting. I hated him, I 
cursed him ; I despised myself for having ever had 
friendship for Pierrot at the same time I had felt love 
for Marie ; and without caring to seek for the motive 
which had urged him to cast himself into the waters of 
Grande-Eiviere, I wept because he had escaped me. He 
was dead, and I was about to die, and all that I re- 
gretted was that I had been unable to wreak my ven- 
geance upon him. 

During the state of semi-somnolency into which my 
weakness had plunged me, these thoughts passed through 
my brain. I do not know how long it lasted, but I was 
aroused by a man's voice singing distinctly, but at some 
distance, the old Spanish song, " Yo que soy contraban- 
dists " Quivering with emotion I opened my eyes ; all 
was dark around me, the negroes slept, the fire was 


dying down. I could hear nothing more. I fancied 
that the voice must have been a dream, and my sleep- 
laden eyelids closed again. In a second I opened them ; 
lor again I heard the voice singing sadly, but much 
nearer, the same song, — 

" 'T was on the field of Ocanen 
That I fell in their power, 
To Cotadilla taken, 

Unhappy from that hour." 

This time it was not a charm, — it was Pierrot's 
voice. A few moments elapsed ; then it rose again 
through the silence and the gloom, and once more I 
heard the well-known air of " Yo que soy contraban- 
dista, " A dog ran eagerly to greet me, and rolled at 
my feet in token of welcome ; it was Eask ! A tall 
negro stood facing me, and the glimmer of the fire threw 
his shadow, swelled to colossal proportions, upon the 
sward. It was Pierrot 

The thirst for vengeance fired my brain ; surprise ren- 
dered me motionless and dumb. I was not asleep. 
Could the dead return ? If not a dream, it must be an 
apparition. I turned from him with horror. 

When he saw me do this, his head sank upon his 
breast. " Brother, " murmured he, " you promised that 
you would never doubt me when you heard me sing that 
song. My brother, have you forgotten your promise ? " 

Page restored the power of speech to me. u Monster ! " 
exclaimed I, " do I see you at last ? Butcher, murderer 
of my uncle, ravisher of Marie, dare you call me 
your brother ? Do not venture to approach me ! " 

I forgot that I was too securely tied to make the 
slightest movement, and glanced to my left side as 
though to seek my sword. 

My intention did not escape him, and he continued 


in a sorrowful tone of voice : " No, I will not come near 
you; you are unhappy and I pity you, — while you have 
no pity for me, though I am much more wretched than 
you are. " 

I shrugged my shoulders ; he understood my feelings, 
and in a half dreamy manner continued, — 

" Yes, you have lost much : but, believe me, I have 
lost more than you have. " 

But the sound of our conversation had aroused the 
negro guard. Perceiving a stranger, they leaped to their 
feet and seized their weapons ; but as soon as they recog- 
nized the intruder they uttered a cry of surprise and joy, 
and cast themselves at his feet, striking the ground with 
their foreheads. 

But neither the homage that the negroes rendered to 
Pierrot, nor the fondlings of Eask, made any impression 
upon me at the moment. I was boiling over with pas- 
sion, and maddened at the bonds that restrained me , 
and at length my fury found words. " Oh, how un- 
happy I am ! " I exclaimed, shedding tears of rage. " 1 
was grieving because I thought that this wretch had 
committed suicide, and robbed me of my just revenge ; 
and now he is here to mock me, living and breathing 
under my very eyes, and I am powerless to stab him to 
the heart ! Is there no One to free me from these ac- 
cursed cords ? " 

Pierrot turned to the negroes, who were still prostrate 
before him. 

" Comrades, " said he, " release the prisoner ! " 


HE was promptly obeyed. With the greatest eager 
ness, my guards cut asunder the ropes that con* 
fined me. I rose up free ; but I remained motionless, 
for surprise rooted me to the spot. 

" That is not all, " said Pierrot ; and snatching a dag- 
ger from one of the negroes, he handed it to me. " You 
can now have your wish. Heaven would not be pleased 
should I dispute your right to dispose of my life. Three 
times you have preserved it. Strike ! it is yours, I say ; 
and if you wish, strike ! " 

There was no sign of anger or of bitterness in his 
face ; he appeared resigned and mournful. The very 
vengeance offered to me by the man with whom I had 
so much longed to stand face to face, prevented my 
seizing the opportunity. I felt that all my hatred for 
Pierrot, all my love for Marie, could not induce me to 
commit a cowardly murder; besides, however damning 
appearances might be, a voice from the depths of my 
heart warned me that no criminal, no guilty man, would 
thus dare to stand before me and brave my vengeance. 
Shall I confess it to you, — there was a certain imperi- 
ous fascination about this extraordinary being which 
conquered me in spite of myself. I pushed aside the 
dagger he offered to me. 

" Wretch ! " cried I, " I wish to kill you in fair fight ; 
but I am no assassin. Defend yourself ! " 

" Defend myself ' " replied he, in tones of astonish* 
ment, " and against whom ? " 


" Against me ! " 

He started back. " Against you ! That is the only 
thing in which I cannot obey you. Look at Eask there : 
I could easily kill him, for he would let me do it ; but 
as for making him fight me, the thing would be impos- 
sible, — he would not understand me if I told him to do 
so. I do not understand you ; in your case I am Eask. " 

After a short silence, he added : " I see the gleam of 
hate in your eyes, as you once saw it in mine. I know 
that you have suffered much ; that your uncle has been 
murdered, your plantations burned, your friends slaugh- 
tered. Yes, they have plundered your house, and devas- 
tated your inheritance ; but it was not I that did these 
things, it was my people. Listen to me. I one day 
told you that your people had done me much injury; 
you said that you must not be blamed for the acts of 
others. What was my reply ? " 

His face grew brighter as he awaited my reply, evi- 
dently expecting that I would embrace him ; but fixing 
an angry gaze upon him, I answered, — 

" You disdain all responsibility as to the acts of your 
people, but you say nothing about what you have vour- 
self done. " 

" What have I done ? " asked he. 

I stepped up close to him, and in a voice of thunder 
I demanded, " Where is Marie ? What have you done 
with Marie ? " 

At this question a cloud passed over his face ; he 
seemed momentarily embarrassed. At last he spoke. 
" Marie ! " said he ; " yes, you are right. But too many 
ears listen to us here. " 

His embarrassment, and the words " You are right, " 
raised the hell of jealousy in my heart; yet still he 
gazed upon me with a perfectly open countenance, and 
in a voice trembling with emotion, said, — 


* Do not suspect me, I implore you ! Besides, I will 
fcell you everything ; love me, .as I love you, witn per- 
fect trust. " He paused to mark the effect of his words, 
and then added tenderly, " May I not again call you 
brother ? " 

But I was a prey to my jealous feelings, and his 
friendly words seemed to me but the deep machinations 
of a hypocrite, and only served to exasperate me more. 
" Dare you recall the time when you did so, you mon- 
ster of ingratitude ? " I exclaimed. 

He interrupted me, a tear shining in his eye : " It is 
not I who am ungrateful. " 

" Well, then, " I continued, " tell me what you have 
done with Marie ! " 

" Not here, . not here ! " answered he, — * other ears 
than ours listen to our words ; besides, you would not 
believe me, and time presses. The day has come, and 
you must be removed from this. All is at an end. 
Since you doubt me, far better would it have been for 
you to take the dagger and finish all ; but wait a little 
before you take what you call your vengeance, — I must 
first free you. Come with me to Biassou. " 

His mauner, both in speaking and acting, concealed a 
mystery which I could not understand. In spite of all 
my prejudices against the man, his voice always made 
my heart vibrate. In listening to him, a certain hidden 
power that he possessed subjugated me. I found myself 
hesitating between vengeance and pity, between the 
bitterest distrust and the blindest confidence. I fol- 
lowed him. 


WE left the camp of the negroes of Morne-Rouge. 
I could not help thinking it strange to find my- 
self at perfect liberty among a horde of savages, in a 
spot where the evening before each man had seemed 
only too ready to shed my blood. Far from seeking to 
bar our progress, both the negroes and the mulattoes 
prostrated themselves on all sides, with exclamations of 
surprise, joy, and respect. I was ignorant what rank 
Pierrot held in the army of the insurgents ; but I re- 
membered the influence that he used to exercise over 
his companions in slavery, and this appeared to me 
to account for the respect with which he was now 

On our arrival at the guard before the grotto, the 
mulatto Candi advanced before us with threatening ges- 
tures, demanding how we dared approach so near the 
general's quarters; but when he came close enough to 
recognize my conductor, he hurriedly removed his gold- 
laced cap, as though terrified at his own audacity, bowed 
to the ground, and at once introduced us into Biassou's 
presence with a thousand apologies, of which Pierrot 
took no heed. 

The respect with which the simple negro soldiers had 
treated Pierrot excited my surprise very little ; but see- 
ing Candi, one of the principal officers of the army, 
humiliate himself thus before my uncle's slave, made 
me ask myself who this man could be whose power was 
illimitable. How much more astonished was I then, 


when, upon being introduced into the presence of Bias- 
sou, — who was alone when we entered, and was quietly 
enjoying his calalou, — he started to his feet, concealing 
disappointment and surprise under the appearance of 
profound respect, bowed humbly to my companion, and 
offered him his mahogany throne. 

Pierrot declined it. " No, Jean Biassou, " said he. 
" I have not come to take your place, but simply to ask 
a favour at your hands. " 

"Your Highness," answered Biassou, redoubling his 
obeisances, " you know well that all Jean Biassou has is 
yours, and that you can dispose as freely of all as you can 
of Jean Biassou himself. " 

" I do not ask for so much, " replied Pierrot, quickly ; 
" all I ask is the life and liberty of this prisoner, " and 
he pointed to me. 

For a moment Biassou appeared embarrassed, but he 
speedily recovered himself. * Your servant is in de- 
spair, your Highness ; for you ask of him, to his great 
regret, more than he can grant. He is not Jean Bias 
sou's prisoner, does not belong to Jean Biassou, and has 
nothing to do with Jean Biassou. " 

" What do you mean ? " asked Pierrot in severe tones, 
" by saying that he does not belong to you ? Does any 
one else hold authority here except you? " 

" Alas, yes, your Highness. " 

"Who is it?" 

" My army. * 

The sly and obsequious manner in which Biassou 
eluded the frank and haughty questions of Pierrot 
showed, had it depended solely upon himself, that he 
would gladly have treated his visitor with far less re- 
spect than he felt himself now compelled to do. 

" What ! " exclaimed Pierrot, " your army ! And do 
not you command it ? " 


Biassou, with every appearance of sincerity. replied s 
* Does your Highness really think that we can command 
men who are in insurrection because they will not 
obey 1 " 

I cared too little for my life to break the silence 
which I had imposed upon myself, else, having seen the 
day before the despotic authority that Biassou exercised 
over his men, I might have contradicted his assertions, 
and laid bare his duplicity to Pierrot. 

" Well, if you have no authority over your men, and 
if they are your masters what reason can they have for 
hating your prisoner ? " 

" Bouckmann has been killed by the white troops, " 
answered Biassou, endeavouring to conceal his sardonic 
smile under a mask of sorrow, " and my men are deter- 
mined to avenge upon this white man the death of the 
chief of the Jamaica negroes. They wish to show trophy 
against trophy, and desire that the head of this young 
officer should serve as a counterpoise to the head of 
Bouckmann in the scales in which the good Giu weighs 
both parties. " 

" Do you still continue to carry on this horrible sys- 
tem of reprisals ? Listen to me, Jean Biassou ! it is 
these cruelties that are the ruin of our just cause. 
Prisoner as I was in the camp of the whites (from which 
I have managed to escape), I had not heard of the death 
of Bouckmann until you told me. It is the just punish- 
ment of Heaven for his crimes. I will tell you another 
piece of news : Jeannot, the negro chief who served as a 
guide to draw the white troops into the ambush of 
Dompte -Mulâtre, — Jeannot also is dead. You know 
— do not interrupt me, Biassou 1 — you know that he 
rivalled you and Bouckmann in his atrocities ; and pay 
attention to this, — it was not the thunderbolt of 
Heaven, nor the bullets of the whites, that struck him; 


it was Jean François himself who ordered this act of 
justice to be performed. " 

Biassou, who had listened with an air of gloomy re- 
spect, uttered an exclamation of surprise. At this 
moment Eigaud entered, bowed respectfully to Pierrot, 
and whispered in Biassou's ear. The murmur of many 
voices was heard in the camp. 

" Yes, " continued Pierrot, " Jean François, who has 
no fault except a preposterous love of luxury and show ; 
whose carriage with its six horses takes him every day 
to hear Mass at the Grande-Riviere, — Jean François 
himself has put a stop to the crimes of Jeannot. In 
spite of the cowardly entreaties of the brigand, who 
clung in despair to the knees of the priest of Marmalade 
who attended him in his last moments, he was shot beneath 
the very tree upon which he used to hang his living 
victims upon iron hooks. Think upon this, Biassou. 
Why these massacres which provoke the whites to repri- 
sals ? Why all these juggleries which only tend to ex- 
cite the passions of our unhappy comrades, already too 
much exasperated ? There is at Trou-Coffi a mulatto 
impostor, called Romaine the Prophet, who is in com- 
mand of a fanatical band of negroes ; he profanes the 
holy sacrament of the Mass, he pretends that he is in 
direct communication with the Virgin, and he urges on 
his men to murder and pillage in the name of Marie. " 

There was a more tender inflection in the voice of 
Pierrot as he uttered this name than even religious re- 
spect would have warranted, and I felt annoyed and 
irritated at it. 

" And you. " continued he, " you have in your camp 
some Obi, I hear, — some impostor like this Romaine 
the Prophet. I well know that having to lead an army 
composed of so many heterogeneous materials, a common 
bond is necessary ; but can it be found nowhere save in 


ferocious fanaticism and ridiculous superstition? Be- 
lieve me, Biassou, the white men are not so cruel as we 
are. I have seen many planters protect the lives of 
their slaves. I am not ignorant that in some cases it 
was not the life of a man, but a sum of money that they 
desired to save ; but at any rate their interest gave them 
the appearance of a virtue. Do not let us be less mer- 
ciful than they are, for it is not our interest to be so. 
Will our cause be more holy and more just because we 
exterminate the women, slaughter the children, and 
burn the colonists in their own houses ? These, however, 
are every-day occurrences. Answer me, Biassou ! must 
the traces of our progress be always marked by a line 
of blood and fire ? " 

He ceased. The fire of his glance, the accent of his 
voice, gave to his words a force of convictiop and au- 
thority which it is impossible for me to imitate. Like 
a fox in the clutches of a lion, Biassou seemed to seek 
for some means of escape from the power that con- 
strained him. 

While Biassou vainly sought for a pretext, the chief 
of the negroes of Cayer, Bigaud, who the evening before 
had calmly watched the horrors that had been perpetrated 
in his presence, seemed to be shocked at the picture 
that Pierrot had drawn, and exclaimed with a hypocritical 
affectation of grief, " Great heavens ! how terrible is a 
Dation when roused to fury ! " 


THE confusion in the camp appeared to increase, to 
the great uneasiness of Biassou. I heard after- 
wards that it was caused by the negroes of Morne- 
Bouge, who hurried from one end of the camp to the 
other, announcing the return of my liberator, and de- 
claring their intention of supporting him in whatever 
object he had come to Biassou's camp for. Bigaud had 
informed the generalissimo of this, and it was the fear 
of a fatal division in the camp that prompted Biassou to 
make some sort of concession to the wishes of Pierrot. 

" Your Highness, " remarked he, with an air of in- 
jured innocence, " if we are hard on the whites, you are 
equally severe upon us. You are wrong in accusing 
us of being the cause of the torrent, for it is the torrent 
that drags us away with it. But what can I do at pres- 
ent that will please you ? " 

" I have already told you, Senor Biassou, " answered 
Pierrot ; " let me take this prisoner away with me. " 

Biassou remained for a few moments silent, as though 
in deep thought; then putting on an expression of as 
great frankness as he was able, he answered, " Your 
Highness, I wish to prove to you that I have every desire 
to please you. Permit me to have two words in private 
with the prisoner, and he shall be free to follow you. " 

" If that is all you ask, I agree, " replied Pierrot. 

His eyes, which up to that moment had wandered 
about in a distrustful manner, glistened with delight, 


and he moved away a few paces to leave us to our 

Biassou drew me on one side into a retired part of the 
cavern, and said in a low voice, " I can only spare your 
life upon the condition that I proposed ; are you ready 
to fulfil it ? " 

He showed me the dispatch of Jean François ; to con- 
sent appeared to me too humiliating. 

" Never ! " answered I, firmly. 

" Aha ! " repeated he, with his sardonic chuckle, " are 
you always as firm ? You have great confidence, then, 
in your protector. Do you know who he is ? " 

" I do, " answered I, quickly. " He is a monster, as 
you are ; only he is a greater hypocrite. " 

He started back in astonishment, seeking to read in 
my glance if I spoke seriously. "What!" exclaimed 
he, " do you not know him then ? " 

With a disdainful look, I replied : " I only know him 
as my uncle's slave ; and his name is Pierrot. " 

Again Biassou smiled bitterly. "Aha, that indeed is 
strange : he asks for your life and liberty, and you say 
that you only know him for a monster like myself. " 

" What matters that ?" I answered ; " if I do gain a 
little liberty, it is not to save my own life, but to take 

" What is that you are saying ? " asked Biassou. 
" And yet you seem to speak as you believe ; I cannot 
think that you would trifle with your life. There is 
something beneath all this that I do not understand. 
You are protected • by a man that you hate; he insists 
upon your life being spared, and you are longing to take 
his ! But it matters little to me ; you desire a short 
spell of freedom, — it is all that I can give you. I will 
leave you free to follow him ; but swear to me, by your 
honour, that you will return to me and reconstitute 


yourself my prisoner two hours before the sun sets. 
You are a Frenchman, and I will trust you. " 

What shall I say gentlemen ? Life was a burden to 
me, and I hated the idea of owing it to Pierrot, for 
every circumstance pointed him out as a just object of 
my hatred. I could not think for a moment that Bias- 
sou (who did not easily permit his prey to escape him) 
would allow me to go free except upon his own condi- 
tions. All I desired was a few hours' liberty which I 
could devote to discovering the fate of my beloved be- 
fore my death. Biassou, relying upon my honour as a 
Frenchman, would grant me these, and without hesita- 
tion I pledged it. 

" Your Highness, " said Biassou, in obsequious tones, 
" the white prisoner is at your disposal ; you can take 
him with you, for he is free to accompany you wherever 
you wish. " 

" Thanks, Biassou, " cried Pierrot, extending his hand. 
" You have rendered me a service which places me en- 
tirely at your disposal. Eemain in command of our 
brethren of Morne-Rouge until my return. " 

Then he turned towards me, I never saw so much 
happiness in his eyes before. " Since you are free, " 
cried he, " come with me. " And with a strange earnest- 
ness he drew me away with him. 

Biassou looked after us with blank astonishment, 
which was even perceptible through the respectful leave 
that he took of my companion. 


I WAS longing to be alone with Pierrot. His embar- 
rassment when I had questioned him as to the fate 
of Marie, the ill-concealed tenderness with which he 
had dared to pronounce her name, had made those feel- 
ings of hatred and jealousy which had sprung up in my 
heart take far deeper root than at the time I saw him 
bearing away through the flames of Fort Galifet her 
whom I could scarcely call my wife. What did I care 
for the generous indignation with which he had reproved 
the cruelties of Biassou, the trouble which he had taken 
to preserve my life, and the curious manner which 
marked all his words and actions ? What cared I for 
the mystery that appeared to envelop him, which 
brought him living before my eyes when I thought to 
have witnessed his death ? He proved to be a prisoner 
of the white troops when I believed that he lay buried 
in the depths of Grande-Biviere, — the slave become a 
king, the prisoner a liberator. Of all these incompre- 
hensible things one was clear, — Marie had been carried 
off by him; and I had this crime to punish, this out- 
rage to avenge. However strange were the events that 
had passed under my eyes, they were not sufficient to 
shake my determination, and I had waited with impa- 
tience for the moment when I could compel my rival to 
explain all. That moment had at last arrived. 

We had passed through crowds of negroes, who cast 
themselves on the ground as we pursued our way, ex- 


claiming in tones of surprise, " Miraculo ! ya no esta 
prisonero I " (" A miracle ! he is no longer a prisoner ! ") ; 
but whether they referred to Pierrot or to myself 1 
neither knew nor cared. We had gained the outskirts 
of the camp, and rocks and trees concealed from our 
view the outposts of Biassou ; Eask in high good humour 
was running in front of us, and Pierrot was following 
him with rapid strides, when I stopped him. 

" Listen to me ! " cried I ; "it is useless to go any 
farther : the ears that you dreaded can no longer listen 
to us. What have you done with Marie ? Tell me 
that ! " 

Concentrated emotion made my voice tremble. He 
gazed upon me kindly. 

" Always the same question ! " said he. 

" Yes, always, " returned I, furiously ; " always ! I 
will put that question to you as you draw your last 
breath, or as I utter my last sigh. Where is Marie ? " 

" Can nothing, then, drive away your doubts of my 
loyalty ? But you shall know all soon. " 

" Soon, monster ! " repeated I, il soon ! it is now, at 
this instant, that I want to know all. Where is Marie ? 
Where is Marie ? Answer, or stake your life against 
mine. Defend yourself ! " 

" I have already told you, " answered he, sadly, " that 
that is impossible ; the stream will not struggle against 
its source, — and my life, which you have three times 
saved, cannot contend against yours. Besides, even if 
I wished it, the thing is impossible ; we have but one 
dagger between us. " 

As he spoke, he drew the weapon from his girdle and 
offered it to me. " Take it, " said he. 

I was beside myself with passion. I seized the dagger 
and placed the point on his breast ; he never attempted 
to move. 


" Wretch ! " cried I, " do not force me to murder you. 
I will plunge this blade into your heart if you do not at 
once tell me where my wife is ! " 

He replied in his calm way : " You are the master to 
do as you like ; but with clasped hands I implore you 
to grant me one hour of life, and to follow me. Can 
you doubt him who thrice has owed his life to you, and 
whom you once called brother ? Listen : if in one hour 
from this time you still doubt me, you shall be at per- 
fect liberty to kill me. That will be time enough ; you 
see that I do not attempt to resist you. I conjure you 
in the name of Marie, — of your wife, " he added slowly, 
as though the victim of some painful recollection, — 
" give me but another hour, I beg of you, not for my 
sake, but for yours. " 

There was so much pathos in his entreaties that an 
inner feeling w T arned me to grant his request, and I 
yielded to that secret ascendency which he exercised 
over me, but which at that time I should have blushed 
to confess. 

" Well, " said I, slowly, " I will grant you one hour, 
and I am ready to follow you ; " and as I spoke I handed 
him his dagger. 

" No, " answered he, " keep it ; you still distrust me, 
but let us lose no time. " 


AGAIN we started. Bask, who during our conversa- 
tion had shown frequent signs of impatience to 
renew his journey, bounded joyously before us. We 
plunged into a virgin forest, and after half an hour's 
walking came out on a grassy opening in the wood. On 
one side was a waterfall dashing over rugged rocks, 
while the primeval trees of the forest surrounded it on 
all sides. Among the rocks was a cave, the grey face 
of which was shrouded by a mass of climbing plants. 
Eask ran towards it barking ; but at a sign from Pierrot 
he became silent, and the latter taking me by the hand 
led me without a word to the entrance of the cave. 

A woman with her back towards the light was seated 
on a mat ; at the sound of our steps she turned. My 
friends, it was Marie ! She wore the same white dress 
which she had worn on the day of our marriage, and 
the wreath of orange blossoms was still on her head. 
She recognized me in a moment, and with a cry of joy 
threw herself into my arms. I was speechless with 
surprise and emotion. At her cry an old woman carry- 
ing a child in her arms hurried from an inner chamber 
formed in the depth of the cave; she was Marie's nurse, 
and she carried my uncle's youngest child. 

Pierrot hastened to bring some water from the neigh- 
bouring spring, and threw a few drops in Marie's face ; 
who was overcome by emotion ; she speedily recovered, 
and opening her eyes exclaimed, — 

" Leopold ! my Leopold ! " 


" Marie ! " cried I*, and my words were stifled in a 

"Not before me, for pity's sake!" crisd a voice, in 
accents of agony. 

We looked round, it came from Pierrot The sight of 
our endearments appeared to inflict temble torture on 
him ; his bosom heaved, a cold perspiration bedewed his 
forehead, and every limb quivered. sSuddenly he hid 
his face in his hands and fled from the grotto, repeating 
in tones of anguish, — 

" Not before me 3 not before me I " 

Marie half raised herself in my arms, and following 
his retreating form with her eyes, exclaimed, " Leopold, 
our happiness seems to trouble him ; can it be that he 
loves me ? " 

The exclamation of the slave had shown that he was 
my rival, but Marie's speech proved that he was my 
trusty friend. 

" Marie, " answered I, as the wildest happiness min- 
gled with the deepest regret filled my heart, " Marie, 
were you ignorant of it ? " 

" Until this moment I was, " answered she, a blush 
overspreading her beautiful features. " Does he really 
love me, for he never let me know it ? " 

I clasped her to my bosom, in all the madness of hap- 
piness. " I have recovered both wife and friend ' How 
happy am I, but how guilty, for I doubted him ! " 

" What ! " cried Marie, in surprise, " had you doubts of 
Pierrot ? Oh, you have indeed been in fault. Twice has 
he saved my life, and perhaps more than life, " she added, 
casting down her eyes. " Without him the alligator 
would have devoured me ; without him the negroes — 
It was Pierrot who rescued me from their hands 
when they were about to send me to rejoin my unhappy 


She broke off her speech with a flood of tears. 

" And why, " asked I, " did not Pierrot send you to 
Cap, to your husband ? " 

" He tried to do so, " replied she, " but it was impos- 
sible. Compelled as he was to conceal me both from 
the whites and the blacks, his position was a most diffi- 
cult one; and then, too, he was ignorant where you 
were. Some said that they had seen you killed, but 
Pierrot assured me that this was not the case ; and a 
something convinced me that he spoke the truth, for I 
felt that had you been dead I should have died at the 
same time. " 

" Then, Pierrot brought you here ? " asked I. 

" Yes, my Leopold ; this solitary cave is known only 
to him. At the same time that he rescued me, he saved 
all that remained alive of our family, my little brother 
and my old nurse, — and hid us here. The place is very 
nice, and now that the war has destroyed our house and 
ruined us, I should like to live here with you. Pierrot 
supplied all our wants. He used to come very often; 
he wore a plume of red feathers on his head. He used 
to console me by talking of you, and always assured me 
that we should meet again ; but for the past three days 
I have not seen him, and I was beginning to be uneasy, 
when to-day he came back with you. He had been 
seeking for vou, had he not ? " 

" Yes, " replied I. 

" But if so, how can he be in love with me ? Are you 
sure of it ? " 

" Quite, " answered I. " It was he who was about to 
stab me beneath your window, and spared me lest it 
should afflict you ; it was he who sang the love songs at 
the pavilion by the river. " 

" Then he is your rival, " exclaimed Marie, with naïve 
surprise ; " and the wicked man with the wild marigolds 


is Pierrot ! I can hardly believe that : he was so re- 
spectful and humble to me, much more so than when he 
was our slave. It is true that sometimes he looked at 
me in a strange manner, but I attributed his sadness to 
our misfortunes. If you could only know with what 
tenderness he spoke of you, my Leopold ! His friend- 
ship made him speak of you as much as my love did. " 

These explanations of Marie enchanted and yet grieved 
me. I felt how cruelly I had treated the noble-hearted 
Pierrot, and I felt all the force of his gentle reproach, 
" It is not I who am ungrateful. " 

At this instant Pierrot returned. His face was dark 
and gloomy, and he looked like a martyr returning from 
the place of torture, but yet retaining an air of tri- 
umph. He came towards me, and pointing to the dag- 
ger in, my belt said, " The hour has passed ! " 

" Hour ! what hour ? " asked I. 

" The one you granted me ; it was necessary for me to 
have so much time allowed me in which to bring you here. 
Then I conjured you to spare my life ; now I supplicate 
you to take it away. " 

The most tender feelings of the heart — love, grati- 
tude and friendship — united themselves together to 
torture me. Unable to say a word, but sobbing bitterly, 
I cast myself at the feet of the slave. He raised me up 
in haste. 

" What are you doing ? " cried he. 

" I pay you the homage that is your due ; but I am 
no longer worthy of friendship such as yours. Can 
your friendship be pushed so far as to forgive me my 
ingratitude ? " 

For a time his expression remained stern ; he appeared 
to be undergoing a violent mental contest. He took a 
step towards me, then drew back, and seemed on the 
point of speaking ; but no words passed his lips. The 


struggle was a short one, he opened his arms to embrace 
me, saying, — 

" May I now call you brother ? " 

My only reply was to cast myself on his breast. 
After a short pause he added, — 

" You were always kind, but misfortune had rendered 
you unjust. " 

" I have found my brother once again, " said I. " I 
am unfortunate no longer, but I have been very guilty. " 

" Guilty, brother ? I also have been guilty, and more 
so than you ; you are no longer unhappy, but I shall be 
so forever ! " 


f I "'HE expression of pleasure which the renewal of our 

-*- friendship had traced on his features faded away, 
and an appearance of deep grief once more pervaded 

" Listen, " said he coldly. " My father was the King 
of Kakongo. Each day he sat at the door of his hut and 
dispensed justice among his subjects. After every judg- 
ment, according to the custom of the kings his ancestors, 
he drank a full goblet of palm wine. We were happy 
and powerful. But the Europeans came to our country ; 
it was from them that I learned the accomplishments 
which you appeared to be surprised at my possessing. 
Our principal acquaintance among the Europeans was a 
Spanish captain ; he promised my father territories far 
greater than those he now ruled over, treasure, and 
white women. My father believed him, and gathering 
his family together, followed him. Brother, he sold us 
as slaves ! " 

The breast of the negro rose and fell, as he strove to 
restrain himself ; his eyes shot forth sparks of fire ; and 
without seeming to know what he did, he broke in his 
powerful grasp a fancy medlar-tree that stood beside 

* The master of Kakongo in his turn had a master, 
and his son toiled as a slave in the furrows of St. Do- 
mingo. They tore the young lion from his father that 
they might the more easily tame him ; they separated 


the wife from the husband, and the little children from 
the mother who nursed them, and from the father who 
used to bathe them in the torrents of their native land. 
In their place they found cruel masters and a sleeping 
place shared with the dogs ! " 

He was silent, though his lips moved as though he 
were still continuing his narrative; after a moment's 
pause he seized me roughly by the arm, and continued : 
* Brother, do you understand ? I have been sold to 
different masters like a beast of burden. Do you re- 
member the punishment of Ogé ? It was on that day 
that I saw my father after a long separation : he was on 
the wheel ! " 

I shuddered ; he went on : — 

" My wife was outraged by white men, and she died 
calling for revenge. I must tell you I was guilty 
towards her, for I loved another ; but let that pass by. 
All my people urged me to deliver and avenge them; 
Eask brought me their messages. I could do nothing 
for them, I was fast in your uncle's prison. The day 
upon which you obtained my release, I hurried off to 
save my children from the power of a cruel master. 
Upon the very day that I arrived, the last of the grand- 
children of the King of Kakongo had expired under 
the blows of the white man ; he had followed the 
others ! " 

He interrupted his recital, and coldly asked me: 
" Brother, what would you have done ? " 

This frightful tale froze me with horror. I replied 
by a threatening gesture. He understood me, and with 
a bitter smile he continued : — 

" The slaves rose against their master, and punished 
the murder of my children. They chose me for their 
chief. You know the frightful excesses that were per- 
petrated by the insurgents. I heard that your uncle's 


slaves were on the point of rising. I arrived at Acul on 
the night upon which the insurrection broke out. You 
were away. Your uncle had been murdered in his bed, 
and the negroes had already set fire to the plantation. 
Not being able to restrain them (for in destroying your 
uncle's property they thought that they were avenging 
my injuries), I determined to save the survivors of his 
family. I entered the fort by the breach that I had 
made. I intrusted your wife's nurse to a faithful negro. 
I had more trouble in saving your ]\tarie ; she had hur- 
ried to the burning portion of the fort to save the young- 
est of her brothers, the sole survivor of the massacre. 
The insurgents surrounded her, and were about to kill 
her. I burst upon them, and ordered them to leave her 
to my vengeance ; they obeyed me, and retired. I took 
your wife in my arms ; I intrusted the child to Eask, — 
and I bore them both away to this cavern, of which I 
alone knew the existence and the access. Brother, such 
was my crime ! " 

More than ever overwhelmed with gratitude and 
remorse, I would again have thrown myself at his feet, 
but he stopped me. 

" Come, " said he, " take your wife and let us leave 
this, all of us. " 

In wonder I asked him whither he wished to conduct 

" To the camp of the whites, " answered he. " This 
retreat is no longer safe. To-morrow at break of day 
the camp of Biassou will be attacked, and the forest 
will assuredly be set on fire. Besides, I have no time 
to lose. Ten lives are in jeopardy until my return. 
We can hasten because you are free; we must hasten 
because I am not. " 

These words increased my surprise, and I pressed him 
for an explanation. 


" Have you not heard that Bug- Jargal is a prisoner ? K 

replied he, impatiently. 

" Yes ; but what has Bug-Jargal to do with you ? " 
In his turn he seemed astonished, and then in a grav^ 

voice he answered : " I am Buq-Jaraal. " 


I H AD thought that rothing that related to this extra- 
ordinary man could have surprised me. I h*ad expe- 
rienced some feelings of astonishment in ending the 
slave Pierrot transformed into an African king ; but my 
admiration reached its height when from his own confes- 
sion I learned that he was the courageous and magnani- 
mous Bug-Jargal, the chief of the insurgents of Morne- 
Eouge ; and I now understood the respectful demeanour 
shown by all the rebels, even by Biassou, to Bug-Jargal, 
the King of Kakongo. He did not notice the impres- 
sion that his last words had made upon me. 

" They told me, " continued he, " that you were a 
prisoner in Biassou 's camp, and I hastened to deliver 
you. " 

" But you told me just now that you too were a 
prisoner. " 

He glanced inquisitively at me, as though seeking 
my reason for putting this natural question. " Listen, " 
answered he. " This morning I was a prisoner in the 
hands of your friends ; but I heard a report that Biassou 
had announced his intention of executing, before sunset 
to-day, a young prisoner named Leopold d'Auverney. 
They doubled my guards, and I was informed that my 
execution would immediately follow yours, and that in 
the event of escape ten of my comrades would suffer in 
my stead. So you see that I have no time to lose. " 

I still detained him. " You made your escape then ? " 
asked I. 


u How else could I have been here ? It was necessary 
to save you. Did I not owe you my life ? Come, let 
us set out ; we are an hour's march from the camp of 
the whites, and about the same distance from that of 
Biassou. See, the shadows oi the cocoanut-trees are 
lengthening, and their round tops look on the pass like 
the egg of the giant condor. In three hours the sun 
will have set. Come, brother, time waits for no man. " 

In three hours the sun will have set ! These words 
froze my blood, like an apparition from the tomb. They 
recalled to my mind the fatal promise which bound me 
to Biassou. Alas ! in the rapture of seeing Marie again, 
I had not thought of our approaching eternal separation. 
I had been overwhelmed with my happiness ; a flood of 
joyful emotions had swept away my memory, and in 
the midst of my delight I had forgotten that the inexo- 
rable finger of death was beckoning to me. But the words 
of my friend recalled everything to my mind. In three 
hours the sun will have set ! It would take an hour to 
reach Biassou 's camp. There could be no faltering with 
my duty. The villain had my word, and it would never 
do to give him the chance of despising what he seemed 
still to put trust in, — the word of a Frenchman ; better 
far to die. The alternative was a terrible one, and I 
confess that I hesitated for a moment before I chose the 
right course. Can you blame me, gentlemen ? 


WITH a deep sigh, I placed one hand in that of 
Bug-Jargal, and the other in that of Marie, who 
gazed with anxiety on the sadness that had overspread 
my features. 

" Bug-Jargal, " said I, struggling with emotion, " I 
intrust to you the only being in the world that I love 
more than you, — my Marie. Return to the camp with- 
out me, for I may not follow you. " 

" Great heavens ! " exclaimed Marie, hardly able to 
breathe from her terror and anxiety, " what new misfor- 
tune is this ? " 

Bug-Jargal trembled, and a look of mingled sorrow 
and surprise passed over his face. " Brother, what is 
this that you say ? " 

The terror that had seized upon Marie at the thought 
of the coming misfortune, which her love for me had 
almost caused her to divine, made me determine to 
spare her the dreadful truth for the moment. I placed 
my mouth to Bug-Jargal's ear, and whispered in hurried 
accents : " I am a prisoner. I swore to Biassou that two 
hours before sunset I would once more place myself in 
his hands; in fact, I have sworn to return to my 
death ! " 

Filled with rage, in a loud voice he exclaimed : " The 
monster ! This then was his motive for a secret inter- 
view with you : it was to bind you with this fatal prom- 
ise. I ought to have distrusted the wretch. Why did 


I not foresee that there must be some treachery lurking 
in the request, for he is a mulatto, not a black. " 

" What is this — what treachery — what promise ? " 
said Marie in an agony of terror. " And who is 
Biassou ? " 

" Silence, silence, " repeated I, in a low voice to Bug- 
Jargal ; " do not let us alarm Marie. " 

" Good, " answered he ; " but why did you give such a 
pledge, — how could you consent ? " 

" I thought that you had deceived me, and that Marie 
was lost to me forever. What was life to me then ? " 

" But a simple promise cannot bind you to a brigand 
like that. " 

" I gave my word of honour. " 

He did not seem to understand me. " Your word of 
honour, " repeated he ; ; ' but what is that ? You did not 
drink out of the same cup ; you have not broken a ring 
together, or a branch of the red-blossomed maple ? " 

" No, we have done none of these things. " 

" Well, then, what binds you to him ? " 

" My honour ! " 

" I cannot understand you ; nothing pledges you to 
Biassou ; come with us ! " 

" I cannot, my brother, for I am bound by my 
promise. " 

" No, you are not bound, " cried he, angrily. " Sister, 
add your prayers to mine, and entreat your husband not 
to leave you. He wishes to return to the negro camp 
from which I rescued him, on the plea that he has 
promised to place his life in Biassou 's hands. " 

" What have you done ? " cried I. 

It was too late to stay the effects of the generous im- 
pulse that had prompted him to endeavour to save the 
life of his rival by the help of her he loved. Marie cast 
herself into my arms with a cry of anguish, her hands 


clasped my neck, and she hung upon my breast speech- 
less and breathless. 

8 Oh, my Leopold, what does he say ? " murmured 
she, at last. " Is he not deceiving me ? It is not im- 
mediately after our reunion that you must quit me again. 
Answer me quickly, or I shall die. You have no right 
to throw away your life, for you have given it to me. 
You would not leave me, never to see me again ? " 

" Marie, " answered I, " we shall meet again, but it 
will be in another place. " 

" In another place ! Where ? " she asked, in faltering 

K In heaven, " I answered ; for to this angel I could 
not lie. 

Again she fainted, but this time it was from grief. 
I raised her up, and placed her in the arms of Bug- 
Jargal, whose eyes were full of tears. 

" Nothing can keep you back, then, " said he. " I 
will add nothing to my entreaties ; this sight ought to 
be enough. How can you resist Marie ? For one word 
such as she has spoken to you I would have sacrificed 
the world; and you cannot even give up death for 

" Honour binds me, " answered I, sadly. " Farewell, 
Bug-Jargal ! farewell, brother ! I leave her to you. " 

He grasped my hand, overwhelmed with grief, and 
appeared hardly to understand me. " Brother, " said he, 
" in the camp of the whites there are some of your rela- 
tives ; I will give her over to them. For my part, I 
cannot accept your legacy. " 

He pointed to a rocky crag which towered high above 
the adjacent country. " Do you see that rock ? " asked 
he ; * when the signal of your death shall float from it, 
it will promptly be answered by the volley that an- 
nounces mine. " 


Hardly understanding his last words, I embraced him, 
pressed a kiss upon the pale lips of Marie, who was 
slowly recovering under the attentions of her nurse, and 
fled precipitately, fearing that another look or word 
would shake my resolution. 


I RUSHED headlong, and plunged into the depths of 
the forest, following the tracks that we had left but 
a short time before, not daring to cast a last glance be- 
hind me. To stifle the grief which oppressed my heart, 
I dashed, without a moment's pause, through the 
thickets, past hill and plain, until I reached the crest 
of a rock from which I could see the camp of Biassou, 
with its lines of wagons and huts swarming with life, 
and looking in the distance like a vast ant-hill. Then 
I halted, for I felt that I had reached the end of my 
journey and my life at the same time. Fatigue and 
emotion had weakened my physical powers, and I leaned 
against a tree to save myself from falling, and allowed 
my eyes to wander over the plain, which was to be my 
place of execution. 

Up to this moment I had imagined that I had drained 
the cup of bitterness and gall to the dregs ; but I had 
not until then tasted the most cruel of all misfortunes, 
— that of being constrained by powerful moral force to 
voluntarily renounce life when it appeared most sweet. 
Some hours before, I cared not for the world ; extreme 
despair is a simulation of death which makes the reality 
more earnestly desired. Marie had been restored to me, 
my dead happiness had been resuscitated, my past had 
become my future, and all my overshadowed hopes had 
beamed forth more gloriously than ever ; and again had a 
new life, — a life of youth and love and enchantment, 


— shone gloriously upon the horizon. I was ready to 
enter upon this life ; everything invited me to it ; no 
material obstacle, no hindrance, was apparent. I was 
free, I was happy, and yet — I was about to die. I had 
made but one step into paradise, and a hidden duty 
compelled me to retrace it, and to enter upon a path the 
goal of which was death ! 

Death has but few terrors for the crushed and broken 
spirit; but how heavy and icy is his hand when it 
grasps the heart which has just begun to live and revel 
in the joys of life ! I felt that I had emerged from the 
tomb, and had for a moment enjoyed the greatest de- 
lights of life, love, friendship, and liberty ; and now the 
door of the sepulchre was again opened, and an unseen 
force compelled me once more to enter it forever. 


WHEN the first bitter pang of grief had passed, a 
kind of fury took possession of me ; and I entered 
the valley with a rapid step, for I felt the necessity of 
shortening the period of suspense. When I presented 
myself at the negro outpost, the sergeant in command 
at first refused to permit me to pass. It seemed strange 
that I should be obliged to have recourse to entreaties to 
enable me to effect my object. At last two of them 
seized me by the arms and led me into Biassou's 

As I entered the grotto he was engaged in examining 
the springs of various instruments of torture with which 
he was surrounded. At the noise my guard made in 
introducing me he turned his head, but my presence did 
not seem to surprise him. 

" Do you see these ? " asked he, displaying the horri- 
ble engines which lay before him. 

I remained calm and impassive, for I knew the cruel 
nature of the " hero of humanity, " and I was determined 
to endure to the end without blenching. 

" Leogri was lucky in being only hung, was he not ? " 
asked he, with his sardonic sneer. 

I gazed upon him with cold disdain, but I made no 

" Tell his reverence the chaplain that the prisoner has 
returned, " said he to an aide-de-camp. 

During the absence of the negro, we both remained 
silent, but I could see that he watched me narrowly. 


Just then Eigaud entered; he seemed agitated, and 
whispered a few words to the general. 

" Summon the chiefs of the different bands, " said 
Biassou, calmly. 

A quarter of an hour afterwards, the different chiefs 
in their strange equipments were assembled in the 
grotto. Biassou rose. 

" Listen to me, friends and comrades ! The whites 
will attack us here at daybreak ; our position is a bad 
one, and we must quit it. At sunset we will march to 
the Spanish frontier. Macaya, you and your negroes 
will form the advanced guards. Padre j an, see that the 
guns taken at Pralato are spiked ; we cannot take them 
into the mountains. The brave men of Croix-des-Bouquets 
will follow Macaya ; Toussaint will come next with the 
blacks from Léogane and Trose. If the griots or the 
griotes make any disturbance, I will hand them over to 
the executioner of the army. Lieutenant-Colonel Cloud 
will distribute the English muskets that were disem- 
barked at Cape Cabron, and will lead the half-breeds 
through the by-ways of the Vista. Slaughter any pris- 
oners that may remain, notch the bullets, and poison 
the arrows. Let three tons of arsenic be thrown into 
the wells ; the colonists will take it for sugar, and drink 
without distrust. Block up the roads to the plain with 
rocks, line the hedges with marksmen, and set fire to 
the forest. Eigaud, you will remain with me ; Candi, 
summon my body-guard. The negroes of Morne-Bouge 
will form the rear-guard, and will not evacuate the 
camp until sunrise. " 

He leaned over to Eigaud, and whispered hoarsely : 
" They are Bug-Jargal's men; if they are killed, all the 
better. ' Muerta la tropa, murte el gefe ! ' ('If the men 
die, the chief will die. ') 

" Go, my brethren, " he added, rising, " you will re- 
ceive instructions from Candi. " 


The chiefs left the grotto 

" General, " remarked Kigaud, " we ought to send that 
dispatch of Jean François ; affairs are going "badly, and 
it would stop the advance of the whites. " 

Biassou drew it hastily from his pocket. " I agree 
with you ; but there are so many faults, both in gram- 
mar and spelling, that they will laugh at it. " 

He presented the paper to me. " For the last time, 
will you save your life ? My kindness gives you a last 
chance. Help me to correct this letter, and to re-write 
it in proper official style. " 

I shook my head. 

" Do you mean no ? " asked he. 

" I do, " I replied. 

" Eeflect, " he answered, with a sinister glance at the 
instruments of torture. 

" It is because I have reflected that I refuse, " replied 
I. " You are alarmed for the safety of yourself and your 
men, and you count upon this letter to delay the just 
vengeance of the whites. I do not desire to retain a life 
which may perhaps have saved yours. Let my execu- 
tion commence. " 

" Ha, boy ! " exclaimed Biassou, touching the instru- 
ments of torture with his foot, " you are growing famil- 
iar with these, are you ? I am sorry, but I have not 
the time to try them on you ; our position is a dangerous 
one, and we must get out of it as soon as we can. And 
so you refuse to act as my secretary ? Well, you are 
right ; for it would not after all have saved your miser- 
able life, which, by the way, I have promised to his 
reverence my chaplain. Do you think that I would 
permit any one to live who holds the secrets of 
Biassou ? " 

He turned to the Obi, who just then entered. " Good 
father, is your guard ready ? " 


The latter made a sign in the affirmative. 

" Have you taken it from among the negroes of Morne- 
Kouge, for they are the. only ones who are not occupied 
in preparations for departure ? " 

Again the Obi bowed his head. 

Then Biassou pointed out to me the black flag which 
I had before remarked in a corner of the grotto. " That 
will show your friends when the time comes to give 
your place to your lieutenant. But I have no more time 
to lose ; I must be off. By the way, you have been for 
a little excursion ; how did you like the neighbourhood ? " 

" I noticed that there were enough trees upon which 
to hang you and all your band. " 

" Ah, " retorted he, with his hideous laugh, " there is 
one place that you have not seen, but with which the 
good father will make you acquainted. Adieu, my 
young captain, and give my compliments to Leogri. " 

He bade me farewell with a chuckle that reminded 
me of the hiss of the rattlesnake, and turned his back 
as the negroes dragged me away. The veiled Obi fol- 
lowed us, his rosary in his hand. 


I WALKED between my guards without offering any 
resistance, which would indeed have been hopeless. 
We ascended the shoulder of a hill on the western side 
of the plain, and then my escort sat down for a brief 
period of repose. As we did so, I cast a last lingering 
look at the setting sun, which would never rise again 
for me on this earth. 

When my guards rose to their feet, I followed their 
example, and we descended into a little dell, the beauty 
of which under any other circumstances would have 
filled me with admiration. A mountain stream ran 
through the bottom of the dell, which by its refreshing 
coolness produced a thick and luxuriant growth of vege- 
tation, and fell into one of those dark-blue lakes with 
which the hills of St. Domingo abound. How often in 
happier days have I sat and dreamed on the borders 
of these beautiful lakes, in the twilight hour, when be- 
neath the influence of the moon their deep azure changed 
into a sheet of silver, or when the reflections of the stars 
sowed the surface with a thousand golden spangles ! 
How lovely this valley appeared to me ! There were 
magnificent plane-trees of gigantic growth, closely grown 
thickets of mauritias, a kind of palm, which allows no 
other vegetation to flourish beneath its shade ; date-trees 
and magnolias with the goblet-shaped flowers. The tall 
catalpa, with its polished and exquisitely chiselled 
blossoms, stood out in relief against the golden buds of 


the ebony-trees ; the Canadian maple mingled its yellow 
flowers with the blue aureolas of that species of the wild 
honeysuckle which the negroes call " coali ; " thick cur- 
tains of luxurious creepers concealed the bare sides of 
the rocks, while from the virgin soil rose a soft perfume, 
such as the first man may have inhaled amidst Eden's 

We continued our way along a footpath traced on the 
brink of the torrent. I was surprised to notice that this 
path closed abruptly at the foot of a tall peak, in which 
was a natural archway, from which flowed a rapid tor- 
rent. A dull roar of falling waters, and an impetuous 
wind issued from this natural tunnel. The negroes who 
escorted me took a path to the left which led into a 
cavern, and seemed to be the bed of a torrent that had 
long been dried up. Overhead I could see the rugged 
roof, half hidden by masses of vegetation, and the same 
sound of falling waters filled the whole of the vault. 

As I took the first step into the cavern, the Obi came 
to my side, and whispered in a hoarse voice, " Listen to 
what I have to predict : only one of us two shall leave 
by this path and issue again from the entrance of the 
cave. " 

I disdained to make any reply, and we advanced fur- 
ther into the gloom. The noise became louder, and 
drowned the sound of our footfalls. I fancied that there 
must be a waterfall near, and I was not deceived. After 
moving through the darkness for nearly ten minutes, 
we found ourselves on a kind of internal platform caused 
by the central formation of the mountain. The larger 
portion of this platform, which was of a semicircular 
shape, was inundated by a torrent which burst from the 
interior of the mountain with a terrible din. Above 
this subterranean hall the roof rose into the shape of a 
dome, covered with moss of a yellowish hue. A large 


opening was formed in the dome, through which the 
daylight penetrated ; and the sides of the crevice were 
fringed with green trees, gilded just now by the last 
rays of the setting sun. At the northern extremity of 
the platform the torrent fell with a frightful noise into 
a deep abyss, over which appeared to float, without be- 
ing able to illuminate its depths, a feeble portion of the 
light which came through the aperture in the roof. 

Over this terrible precipice hung the trunk of an old 
tree, whose topmost branches were filled with the foam 
of the waterfall, and whose knotty roots pierced through 
the rock two or three feet below the brink. This tree, 
whose top and roots were both swept by the torrent, 
hung over the abyss like a skeleton arm, and was so 
destitute of foliage that I could not distinguish its 
species. It had a strange and weird appearance ; the 
humidity which saturated its roots prevented it from 
dying, while the force of the cataract tore off its new 
shoots, and only left it with the branches that had 
strength to resist the force of the water. 


IN this terrible spot the negroes came to a halt, and 1 
knew that my hour had come. It was in this abyss, 
then, that was to be sunk all my hopes in this world. 
The image of the happiness which but a few hours be- 
fore I had voluntarily renounced brought to my heart a 
feeling of regret, almost one of remorse. To pray for 
mercy was unworthy of me, but I could not refrain 
from giving utterance to my regrets. 

" Friends, " said I to the negroes who surrounded me, 
" it is a sad thing to die at twenty years of age, full of 
life and strength, when one is loved by one whom in 
your turn you adore, and when you leave behind you 
eyes that will ever weep for your untimely end. " 

A mocking burst of laughter hailed my expression of 
regret. It came from the little Obi. This species of 
evil spirit, this living mystery, approached me roughly. 

" Ha, ha, ha ! you regret life then, Zabadosea Bios ! 
My only fear was that death would have no terrors for 
you. » 

It was the same voice, the same laugh that had so 
often before baffled my conjectures. " Wretch ! " ex- 
claimed I, " who are you ? " 

" You are going to learn, " replied he, in a voice of 
concentrated passion ; and thrusting aside the silver sun 
that half concealed his brown chest, he exclaimed, 
" Look ! ■ ' 

I bent forward. Two names were written in white 
letters on the hairy chest of the Obi, showing but too 


clearly the hideous and ineffaceable brand of the heated 
iron. One of these names was Effingham ; the other 
was that of my uncle and myself, D'Auverney! I was 
struck dumb with surprise. 

"Well, Leopold d'Auverney, " asked the Obi, "does 
not your name tell you mine ? * 

" No, " answered I, astonished to hear the man name 
me, and seeking to re-collect my thoughts. " These 
two names were only to be found thus united upon the 
chest of my uncle's fool. But the poor dwarf is dead; 
and besides that, he was devotedly attached to us. You 
cannot be Habibrah. " 

" No other ! " shrieked he ; and casting aside the 
blood-stained cap, he raised his veil and showed me the 
hideous features of the household fool. But a threaten- 
ing and sinister expression had usurped the half imbe- 
cile smile which was formerly eternally imprinted on 
his features. 

" Great God ! " exclaimed I, overwhelmed with sur- 
prise, " do all the dead, then, come back to life ? It is 
Habibrah, my uncle's fool ! " 

" His fool, and also his murderer. " 

I recoiled from him in horror. " His murderer, 
wretch ! Was it thus that you repaid his kindness — " 

He interrupted me. " His kindness ! rather say his 
insults. " 

" What ! " I again cried, " was it you, villain, who 
struck the fatal blow ? " 

" It was, " he replied, with a terrible expression upon 
his face. " I plunged my knife so deeply into his heart 
that he had hardly time to cast aside sleep before death 
claimed him. He cried out feebly, * Habibrah, come to 
me ! ' but I was with him already! " 

The cold-blooded manner in which he narrated the 
murder disgusted me. " Wretch ! cowardly assassin ! 


You forgot, then, all his kindness ; that you ate at his 
table, and slept at the foot of his bed — " 

" Like a dog ! " interrupted Habibrah, roughly, " como 
un pèrro. I thought too much of what you call his 
kindness, but which I looked upon as insults. I took 
vengeance upon him, and I will do the same upon you. 
Listen : do you think that because I am a mulatto and a 
deformed dwarf that I am not a man ? Ah, I have a 
soul st